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FDA Approves OxyContin For Children Ages 11 To 16

A selection of OxyContin pills.

In this edition of our series on real-life health issues, Vital Signs: Children suffering from pain. The Food and Drug Administration has approved OxyContin for use with children ages 11 through 16. 

Dr. Glenn Hardesty, an emergency room physician  with Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital, talks about which kids would receive the drugs, and he share his concerns about the FDA's decision.

Highlights from Dr. Hardesty’s interview:

Which kids would use OxyContin: “The reason for prescribing it would be C. It would be smaller amounts. You would have test doses of the medication before you went to prescribing it on an outpatient basis because it’s a long-acting drug.”

Additional recommendations for use: “Before they (patients) can be prescribed the full course of therapy, that they can tolerate up to a 20 mg dose. Make sure they have a withdrawal plan – how they’ll get off the drug. How are they going to safeguard the drug against abuse.”

Why has the FDA approved OxyContin for use with kids: “I suspect it’s been used for a long time in what we call off-label use. Meaning that if I have a patient with “Condition X” and “Drug Y” can treat that condition, but didn’t go through the FDA approval process for it, we sometimes do that in medicine. I suspect they were trying to get an “on-label” use for the OxyContin.

For More Information:

Pediatric Pain Management Options 

FDA OKs OxyContin for Some Children

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.