WASHINGTON – The Associated Press is reporting that the Food and Drug Administration has approved OxyContin for children 11 to 16 who suffer from chronic pain.

The approval came Thursday for use of the extremely powerful painkiller that is an opioid used in adults for 24-hour relief. The FDA claims to have asked Purdue Pharma to study the safety of the drug when used with children who already tolerate 20 milligrams of oxycodone.

Taking a sudden dose of an opioid can result in an overdose or death if the patient has not already been exposed to the drug type, the AP said.

OxyContin, reformulated in 2010 to discourage snorting or injection, was changed to a new version of the drug. The older version has been associated with addiction, overdose and death, according to the AP report.

Thomas Kruzel, ND, of Scottsdale, Arizona, finds the news disturbing:

“What I have found most disconcerting with regard to this announcement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is that they asked the pharmaceutical company that makes the drug to conduct studies to see if it was safe for children 11 years and older. Not surprisingly they did as they stand to benefit from the increased sales.

OxyContin has been found to be a highly addictive drug because over the long term it alters the brain’s opoid receptors, which in turn requires larger doses to achieve the pain killing effects. Imagine what this will do in a developing child’s brain. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has cracked down on opoid prescriptions in part because of the high addiction rate and unintended deaths due to over dose. Adding a larger population to the mix in my opinion makes little sense, especially when there are alternative and non-addicitve therapies available that are underutilized.

The FDA has stressed that OxyContin will be used primarily as a pain medication for children with cancer or terminal cancer and that it will be closely monitored. However, despite these assurances the potential for misuse and abuse is there and most certainly will become a problem we will have to deal with in the future, much as we have had to do when the drug companies assured doctors that the potential for addiction to opoids was minimal. In my opinion, I think that the FDA’s guidelines for opoid use in this population needs to be very, very restrictive and narrow in order to decrease the risk of addicting our future generations”

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