LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — An extremely addictive painkiller was recently approved for children as young as 11 suffering from chronic pain, but the move has some opponents worried it’ll lead to a spike in addictions.
“They will be prescribing their children into addiction,” says Sherrie Rubin, who can’t believe the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved OxyContin for kids.
Rubin says she’s afraid that now 11 year olds could end up like her son: disabled with brain damage after an OxyContin overdose.
“My son made a choice, an uneducated choice, back in 2005 that he wished he didn’t make and it has tragically changed his hope, his dreams, altered his future and it’s too late for Aaron. It’s not too late for these young adults,” she said.
In an effort to give children more options for pain relief in the event of terminal illness or trauma, the FDA asked Purdue Pharma L.P. to perform its own study to see if the drug could be used safely in kids as young as 11.
The FDA recently approved OxyContin for children who need daily, long-term pain relief.
Advocate Natalie Costa is shocked.
“We lose one life in this country every 19 minutes to a prescription drug overdose,” said Costa, who produced the documentary “Behind the Orange Curtain,” which profiles the prescription pain pill problem in Orange County.
“It’s a fox guarding a hen-house. You think Purdue is gonna come back and go, ‘Well, you know, this isn’t really safe’? I mean it’s all financial benefit for them. It’s a windfall for them. It’s already a $3 billion a year drug. So now, we’ve taken the addiction potential down to the next generation, and we’re hoping that doctors are going to prescribe responsibly,” Costa said.
While doctors who treat young cancer patients support the approval, some are concerned about prescribing such an addictive painkiller to children.
Ruben believes the FDA’s green light will spur pharmaceutical sales.
“They’re going to be knocking down on doctor’s doors aggressively to say, ‘We have the only approved opioid for children and encourage them to prescribe it,” Rubin said.
The FDA stresses that the drug’s approval is not intended to expand or change the way the drug is used on pediatric patients.
The approval is for children 11 and older who are already tolerating a minimum daily dose of at least 20 milligrams per day.