A growing epidemic of overdoses of prescription painkillers is leading to a record numbers of deaths, especially among women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"More women are dying at rates that we have never seen before," CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said about the findings, which were released earlier this month.
"Stopping this epidemic in women—and men—is everyone's business," Frieden added.
More Americans now die from painkillers than from heroin and cocaine combined, and since 2008, prescription drug-induced deaths have outstripped those from automobil accidents, according to the CDC.
The CDC's latest figures show that 16,500 people died from overdoses tied to common narcotic pain relievers—such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Opana and methadone—in 2010. Forty percent of those were women.
(Read more: Drug research in China falls under a cloud)
In the past 11 years, deaths from overdose increased more than 400 percent among women, compared with a 265 percent rise among men.
"It's not surprising with the greater access to medical procedures, like surgeries for knees, backs and hips," said Kent Runyon, director of Novus Medical Detox, a prescription drug private rehab center in New Port Rickey, Fla.
"Patients get prescriptions for pain drugs and then they get addicted, making it very hard to get off them," he said.