FDA Approves OxyContin For Extremely Sick Kids

The U.S. Food and Drug Association approved the painkiller OxyContin for children ages 11 to 16 with pain “severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment,” according to a statement released on Aug. 14.

Some experts expressed concern that the approval might lead to drug misuse among children or their family members, who may have access to the drugs. But doctors who treat dying children and those in chronic pain say that the move will be a boon to many of their patients.

“Although thankfully uncommon, some children can experience prolonged periods of substantial chronic pain from conditions like cancer,” said Dr. Chris Feudtner, director of the Department of Medical Ethics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who has no connection to the drug.

“For these patients, strong pain medications can offer tremendous relief,” he said.

OxyContin, the extended time-release version of the generic narcotic oxycodone, has been all over the news in recent years for its role in the public health crisis of opioid addiction. Experts blame the rise of prescription painkiller use in the United States for the nation’s current heroin epidemic. As it stands, four out of five new heroin users abused prescription painkillers first, according to the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality.

Although OxyContin, is just one of many painkillers on the market, it took particular criticism because representatives promised officials and doctors that the drug was safe and effective for patients with chronic pain. In actuality, its time-release formula made it more likely to result in abuse.

OxyContin is made by Purdu Pharma, a drug company with a tarnished reputation after three of the company’s top executives pleaded guilty to misleading doctors, regulators and the public about OxyContin’s addiction risk in 2007. The company agreed —> Read More