Start ‘em young: Big Pharma targets kids with Oxycontin
by Kelley Martin
Never an industry to look a gift horse in the mouth, major pharmaceutical manufacturers are celebrating the federal government’s recent approval of Oxycontin as an acceptable drug for children as young as 11 years old.
The controversial pain medication — the focus of many adult-strength stories of addiction, abuse and crime — got the all-clear from the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August, opening a potential new floodgate of young customers. And those customers are at the leading edge of the pre-adolescent demographic curve when, for many, the lifelong struggle with narcotics abuse begins.
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.
Oxycontin’s addictive power has even some physicians worried that prescribing it to pre-adolescents is a terrible idea.
“There really aren’t many people that are applauding this decision,” New York-based psychiatrist Andrew Kolodny told Livescience.
“…[But] [o]utside of palliative care, there’s a very limited role.”
In other words, the FDA has just cleared the way for mass prescription of a drug to children who,unless beset by immense pain and faced with terminal illnesses, stand to suffer immensely if they succumb to its addictive power.