Doctors are worried about the recent approval of OxyContin for use in children as young as age 11.
The drug, which is a powerful painkiller, has been linked to the rise in heroin addiction and drug overdose deaths. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its use in children in August.
Although OxyContin was prescribed to children and adolescents prior to its approval in a practice known as “off-label use,” it is likely to be prescribed much more widely now that it is officially approved, doctors say. [5 Surprising Facts About Pain]
Treating chronic pain, especially in children, can be incredibly challenging for doctors. There’s no single, effective approach that makes pain go away for everyone, and for some patients, none of the existing drugs seem to work completely. In addition, some drugs commonly prescribed for people with chronic pain have the potential for addiction.
But even doctors with limited options for treating pain aren’t happy with the decision.
“There really aren’t many people that are applauding this decision,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, a psychiatrist in New York City and the director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing.
The majority of kids who will wind up getting OxyContin as a result of this decision will not be the appropriate patients, Kolodny told Live Science. Prior to the approval, OxyContin was already under fire for being overprescribed in adults.