Health

FDA Approves OxyContin For Children As Young As 11

| by Michael Allen

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved OxyContin, a reportedly powerful and addictive painkiller, for limited use for kids as young as 11 years old on Thursday.

Dr. Sharon Hertz, of the FDA, said clinical studies by the drug's manufacturer (Purdue Pharma) "supported a new pediatric indication for OxyContin in patients 11 to 16 years old and provided prescribers with helpful information about the use of OxyContin in pediatric patients," reports NBC News.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website says that OxyContin is one of the most common prescription drugs involved in overdoses.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine's 2015 report on opioid addiction: "Nearly 1 in 20 high school seniors has taken Vicodin, 1 in 30 has abused OxyContin."

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The Atlantic reported in 2014 that Purdue Pharma assured medical professionals in 1996 that OxyContin was far less addictive than other painkillers such as Percocet or Vicodin.

The Atlantic also reported that Purdue Pharma sales reps got "millions in bonuses for persuading doctors" to write prescriptions for OxyContin.

In 2011, Purdue Pharma and three top officials "pleaded guilty in 2007 to misleading the public about the drug's risk of addiction and paid $634.5 million in fines," noted McClatchy DC in 2011.

The BBC News reported in 2012 that the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians found that Americans consumed 80 percent of the world's painkiller drugs.

USA TODAY noted in 2013 that OxyContin was becoming a gateway drug to heroin for upper-income addicts, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) referred to it as "hillbilly heroin."

A 2003 U.S. General Accounting Office report stated: "The active ingredient in OxyContin is twice as potent as morphine, which may have made it an attractive target for misuse."

However, Hertz says on the FDA website, "OxyContin is not intended to be the first opioid drug used in pediatric patients, but the data show that changing from another opioid drug to OxyContin is safe if done properly."

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Society of Addiction Medicine, The Atlantic, McClatchy DC, FDA, BBC News, USA TODAY, U.S. General Accounting Office, NBC News / Photo Credit: CDC