Several areas of the healthcare field are abuzz with the recent news that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just approved the use of OxyContin to treat chronic pain in children as young as 11 years old. Those disturbed most by the decision are addiction treatment and prevention specialists. However, some doctors remain uncertain.
OxyContin is a powerful prescription narcotic that is in an extended release form that is often given for moderate to severe chronic pain. All oxycodone products have a very high potential for abuse, and the drug’s maker, Purdue Pharma, has settled major lawsuits claiming it withheld evidence of the additional risks that OxyContin carries. The maker eventually introduced tamper-resistant forms, but many users are still able to get around that.
A lot of people have heard of OxyContin because of the prescription painkiller epidemic that has swept across the country. Many believe that OxyContin was one of the biggest culprits of this disturbing trend, as well as a gateway drug to heroin. Patients who were prescribed the drug can easily become dependent on it and eventually addicted to. Thousands of people now die each year from overdoses on synthetic opioids like this drug.
Given all this information and the deadly history with the drug, why would the FDA approve it for use in children? Dr. Sharon Hertz with the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research claims that it is okay for certain uses and said, “new study data and resulting pediatric indication for OxyContin give doctors more specific information on how to safely manage pain in their pediatric patients following these types of surgery or traumas.”
Regardless of how safe particular studies may claim the drug is for children, the fear is that it will once again be overprescribed, leaving thousands of young people at serious risk of harm.