The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

July 5, 2013

Pain-pill deaths soar among Ohio, U.S. women

Prescription-drug overdoses are increasing more rapidly among women than men in the United States and in Ohio, prompting calls for more-careful prescribing of the drugs and attention to the potential for addiction.

Women are dying at rates that the country has never seen, said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as his agency shared numbers tracking deaths by overdose from 1999 through 2010.

More men die from drug use, but opiate-related deaths among women increased 415 percent in that period, compared with a 265 percent increase among men. The largest number of deaths was among women 45 to 54.

In 1999, 1,287 U.S. overdose deaths in women were attributed all or in part to opiates - strong painkillers that include Vicodin and oxycodone. In 2010, that number was 6,631.

“These are really troubling numbers,” Frieden said on a call with reporters.

Ohio’s death toll tells the same story. Deaths from unintentional drug overdoses jumped 436 percent among women and 276 percent among men from 2000 to 2011.

All of this coincides with an increase in prescribing of the drugs despite the absence of evidence of much-greater legitimate demand for them, Frieden said.

Nobody has a single definitive answer for why this is happening, but there are prevailing theories.

Women are more often diagnosed with abdominal pain, musculoskeletal pain and migraines, Frieden said.

Doctors should take care to prescribe addictive painkillers only for those who have severe pain, including cancer patients, he said. “In many other situations, the risks far outweigh the benefits,” he said.

Women also metabolize drugs and alcohol differently than men, making overdose more likely, said Paul H. Coleman, president and CEO of Maryhaven, which treats addiction and mental illness in and around Columbus.

Seven in 10 people admitted to Maryhaven for detox last year were addicted to an opiate. Most started with prescription drugs and eventually moved on to heroin, Coleman said.

Patients typically say their addiction started with a prescription for pain, such as an ailing back, he said.

The pharmaceutical industry also bears some responsibility, Coleman said.

Christy Beeghly, violence and injury-prevention program administrator for the Ohio Department of Health, said state leaders are working hard to cut back on overprescribing by well-meaning physicians. Already, prescribing guidelines have been shared with emergency departments throughout the state.

Now, a committee is working on a document that would help other physicians identify patients who might be at risk of trouble, Beeghly said.

The state also has an electronic system for checking up on patients who might be getting prescriptions from more than one provider.

“I think sometimes prescribers get put between a rock and a hard place where their patients are expecting particular types of drugs. A lot of times, it may be easier to give a patient what they want.”

There also can be obstacles to alternative pain care, including lack of insurance reimbursement for such treatments as physical therapy.

Coleman said both doctors and patients have a responsibility when pain management is being discussed.

“I think the patients should always say, ’Doctor, is this the least-problematic intervention that we can engage in? Is there another drug that doesn’t have the potential for addiction?’”

Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Woman, teenager found dead in Lake Erie; 2 missing

    The bodies of two of four missing boaters were recovered in western Lake Erie on Thursday, a day after the group left for an afternoon of fishing and sent pictures to relatives.

    April 18, 2014

  • Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet

    Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected — a distant, rocky world that’s similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it’s not too hot and not too cold for life.

    April 18, 2014

  • Lordstown eyes fall rollout of updated Cruze

    Production of the updated Chevrolet Cruze is tentatively set to begin early this fall at the General Motors facility in Lordstown, a plant official confirmed.

    April 17, 2014

  • A year after background check defeat, modest goals

    Democratic worries about this November’s elections, a lack of Senate votes and House opposition are forcing congressional gun-control supporters to significantly winnow their 2014 agenda, a year after lawmakers scuttled President Barack Obama’s effort to pass new curbs on firearms.

    April 17, 2014

  • College Board provides a glimpse of new SAT

    Anxious students — not to mention their parents — can get a heads-up for how the redesigned SAT might look in two years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Poll finds Clinton trouncing entire GOP field

    Hillary Clinton isn’t only the strong front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, but she’s well ahead of every potential Republican rival, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll.

    April 16, 2014

  • Ukraine bares teeth against eastern uprising

    In the first Ukrainian military action against a pro-Russian uprising in the east, government forces repelled an attack Tuesday by about 30 gunmen at an airport, beginning what the president called an “anti-terrorist operation” to try to restore authority over the restive region.

    April 16, 2014

  • U.N. Security Council sees grim images of Syrian dead

    The U.N. Security Council fell silent Tuesday after ambassadors viewed a series of ghastly photographs of dead Syrian civil war victims, France’s ambassador said. The pictures showed people who were emaciated, with their bones protruding, and some bearing the marks of strangulation and repeated beatings, and eyes having been gouged out.

    April 16, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia causing Ukraine unrest

    The White House on Monday said there was “overwhelming evidence” that Russia is fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, but suggested that President Barack Obama has not yet concluded that Vladimir Putin’s actions warrant broader sanctions on key Russian economic sectors.

    April 15, 2014

House Ads

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video