Researcher Karin Mack of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said men are still more likely to die from painkiller overdoses but women are catching up fast.
"Mothers, wives, sisters and daughters are dying from these overdoses at rates never seen before," Mack said in a statement. "Prescription painkiller overdose deaths increased five-fold among women between 1999 and 2010."
Previous research showed U.S. women were more likely than men to have chronic pain, to get painkillers at higher doses and to use them for longer periods.
The study was published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.