Washington, D.C.  – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve Congresswoman Julia Brownley’s (D-Westlake Village) amendment to H.R. 4641, a bill establishing an Inter-Agency Task Force on Best Practices for Pain Management.  The Brownley amendment added the Office of Women’s Health to the inter-agency task force on pain management created under the bill. After Brownley’s amendment was included, the final bill passed the House in a vote of 412 to 4.

“Opioid abuse among women has increased an alarming 400 percent in recent years, and my amendment would include experts on women’s health in the inter-agency task force, established by the bill, so that the unique pain management needs of women and girls can be addressed,” said Congresswoman Julia Brownley.  “The Office of Women’s Health is uniquely qualified to ensure that the specialized needs of women and girls, who may be pregnant or nursing, are taken into account as the task force examines best practices for pain management and prescribing pain medication.”

The Office of Women’s Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has specialized expertise that will help the inter-agency pain management task force address the unique pain management needs of women who may be pregnant or nursing.

This expertise of the Office of Women’s Health is desperately needed because opioid abuse among women has increased substantially in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of women who fall victim to an opioid-related fatality increased an alarming 400% from 1999 to 2010, totaling 48,000 women who have died during that span of time. During this decade, opioid abuse among women increased more than abuse of any other drug, including cocaine and heroin.

The CDC reports that in 2010, 18 women per day died of a prescription painkiller overdose, accounting for nearly 7,000 women total.

H.R. 4641 establishes a task force comprised of representatives of several key federal agencies, as well as physicians, hospitals, state medical boards, pain management professional organizations, the mental health treatment community, the addiction treatment and recovery community, pain advocacy groups, patient representatives, and other stakeholders.

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