The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just approved OxyContin for kids with the age between 11 and 16, who are suffering through extreme pain. The exact wording of the statement is pain “severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment”.
The decision is a controversial one as some medical experts fear that the decision might make it easy for children and concerned family members with easy access to the drug to misuses it.
But other experts who’ve treated dying children or children suffering from chronic pain applaud the decision and believe that it will improve the lives of many of their patients.
One such expert is Dr. Chris Feudtner, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia director from the Department of Medical Ethics. He gave a statement saying that although it is thankfully uncommon, some children may experience prolonged periods of chronic pain from conditions such as cancer.
He went on to add that “For these patients, strong pain medications can offer tremendous relief”.
It’s worth mentioning that this isn’t the first time OxyContin is the subject of controversy. It’s been in the press in recent years due to its role in opioid addiction management. OxyContin is a derivative of oxycodone, a narcotic blamed for the rise in painkiller prescriptions and eventual heroine addiction once the doctors stop writing prescriptions for their patients.
Statistically speaking, the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality have published a paper revealing that four in five (4 in 5) heroine users start out as abusive prescription painkiller users.
Even though OxyContin is far from being the only painkiller on the market that’s causing trouble, critics love referencing it because its representatives gave their word to doctors and officials that the drug was not only effective in treating patients suffering from chronic pain, but also safe.
However, it turns out that OxyContin’s time-release formula, which is supposed to make it safer, is the exact thing that’s making it more addictive and likely to result in abusive behavior.
Perhaps the circumstances shouldn’t be that surprising as OxyContin is manufactured and commercialized by Purdu Pharma, a drug company that doesn’t have the best image in the world. Three (3) of its drug executives admitted to misleading doctors, as well as regulators and the general public in regards to OxyContin’s addictive properties, back in 2007.
The case ended with Purdu Pharma having to pay fines of $600 million, and the Food and Drug Administration deciding to ban the drug’s original formula back in 2010, after the trial ended.
But even with all the problems adults face because of OxyContin, doctors who’ve had to treat children suffering through chronic pain say that the drug is less likely to cause addiction in these patients.
Dr. Feudtner explained that “children rarely get ‘hooked’ on these medications” as long as people actively manage and monitor their use, and stressed that it’s import to give children in need what they need.
Dr. Lonnie Zeltzer, professor of pediatrics and director of the Pediatric Pain and Palliative Care Program from the Mattel Children’s Hospital, gave a statement of his own agreeing with Dr. Feudtner. He said that many people who criticize OxyContin forget about the large number of children and adolescents affected by chronic pain.