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FDA Approves OxyContin For Kids 11 to 16

Daily Dose 2015-08-17 2 comments

Prescribing OxyContin To Youngsters With Short-term Medical Needs Could Put Them At Risk For Developing An Addiction

FDA approves OxyContin for kids 11 to 16- The Food and Drug Administration has approved the powerful narcotic painkiller OxyContin for children as young as 11. While doctors who treat young cancer patients hailed the approval, others expressed concern that prescribing OxyContin to children could put them at risk for addiction.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the brand name for this compound, OxyContin, is in fact an extended-release version of the oxycodone FDA, and it’s part of increasing concern from some health officials saying that this is spreading an epidemic of painkiller abuse in the United States, including many more deaths from overdose.

OxyContin, an extended-release version of the painkiller oxycodone, has gained notoriety in recent years because of its frequent abuse. People addicted to painkillers crush the pills so that they can be snorted or injected, producing a powerful high.

In 2010, Purdue Pharma reformulated OxyContin to make it more difficult to abuse.

The FDA notes that children generally have many¬†fewer options for pain relief than adults. Because of that problem, the FDA asked Purdue to perform studies to see if the drug could be used safely in children ages 11 to 16 with pain caused by cancer, trauma or¬†major surgery,¬†said Sharon Hertz, a physician with the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in an interview on the agency’s website.

The FDA approved OxyContin for children this age who need “daily, round-the-clock, long-term” pain relief for which there is no alternative, Hertz said.¬†Doctors should only prescribe OxyContin in children who have already been treated with opiate painkillers and who can tolerate at least 20 milligrams a day of oxycodone.

“Other than OxyContin, the only other long-acting painkiller approved for children is Duragesic, also known as fentanyl.”

“Children are not treated with opioids very often and usually it’s only for a limited period of time with close supervision by health care professionals,” Hertz said. “Fewer daily doses may free patients for physical therapy appointments, allow them to go home from the hospital sooner and may help them to sleep through the night without waking up.”

Doctors who treat pediatric cancer patients hailed the approval as a way to ease children’s suffering. Children at the end of life aren’t at risk of addiction.

Having additional long-acting painkillers “is¬†going to be tremendously helpful for treating children with cancer pain or pain at the end of life,” said¬†Justin Baker, pediatric oncologist and hospice and palliative medicine doctor at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.¬†Long-acting medications prevent breakthrough pain, so that youngsters can feel comfortable and “focus¬†their energy on being a kid instead of fighting their pain,” Baker said.

But prescribing OxyContin to youngsters¬†with short-term medical needs¬†could be put them at risk¬†for developing an addiction that haunts them long after they leave the hospital, said Andrew Kolodny, director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing. Teens are at higher risk of addiction than adults¬†because the brain doesn’t mature until about age 25.

Studies show that about one in 25 high school seniors has abused OxyContin, said Scott Hadland, a specialist in adolescent medicine and substance abuse treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

“Among adolescents who are prescribed OxyContin, a small but significant number are going to become addicted,” Hadland said.

The number of prescription painkillers sold in the USA has quadrupled since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 44,000 Americans die of drug overdoses each year. Some people who become addicted to prescription painkillers switch to using heroin, which has become cheaper and easier to access than OxyContin.

Kolodny said it’s concerning that the FDA approved OxyContin for children without appointing an advisory panel to discuss the risks and benefits, a process traditionally used when the agency faces a controversial decision.

Hadland said doctors need to take special precautions when dispensing painkillers, such as prescribing limited amounts, so that people don’t end up with extra pills that they don’t need. Doctors¬†should screen patients for drug and alcohol abuse before prescribing OxyContin,¬†Hadland said. And doctors should check their state’s prescription drug monitoring program, which allows them to see if patients have already received painkillers from other doctors.

Parents should be in charge of giving children the medication, instead of allowing teens to administer their own painkillers, Hadland said. Parents should keep painkillers locked away at all other time.


  1. Bracus

    They don’t need OxyContin. These children need medical marijuana. Cannabis is the only thing they can take that takes away their pain without any chance of killing them. And addiction would only be psychological, if at all. Meaning, they might want to be high sometimes, which is no different than wanting to go out to drink, but less dangerous. We need to wake up.

    • Brenda

      i agree 100% what these kids need is the medical marijuana , why give a child something like this? dont you think there is enough people out here in this world who is now addicted to drugs WHY in gods name would you even think about giving an 11 yr old child oxicontin wether it’s long term or short term it dont matter when its all said and done that child is going to be addicted to this pill, ive seen adults who have been dope sick.. and ive seen what they go through the sickness pukeing shakes ect can u imagine the horror of a 11 yr old child going through these withdrawls when mommys and daddys insurance will no longer cover fo them to get it, or when they try to take them off it… But you see with medical marijuana you dont have that problem because marijuana is non habbit forming ……our children are the FUTURE we teach them drugs are bad and yet you wanna push em down an 11 yr olds throat wow