The Food and Drug Administration has officially approved the use of OxyContin in children ages 11 to 17, which is a huge change since the drug was originally only able to be administered to adults.
This drastic change in drug rules for OxyContin makes the drug one of a few strong painkillers that are legally available for children. To take high precautions, the FDA has formally instructed the drug maker Purdue Pharma how to safely distribute OxyContin to children in the acceptable age range.
“This program was intended to fill a knowledge gap and provide experienced health care practitioners with the specific information they need to use OxyContin safely in pediatric patients.”
In addition to the special instructions for the pharmaceutical company, the FDA has regulations for the doctors who either administer or prescribe OxyContin to children. One of the regulations is that children who are to be given OxyContin must already be able to tolerate a minimum oxycodone dosage of 20 mg, which, according to Fox News, is the main ingredient in OxyContin. This precaution is to minimize the risk of overdose, which, in the case of the strong painkiller OxyContin, can occur during the first use. For this reason, the FDA released information from Pediatric Pain Management Doctor and Specialist Sharon Hertz on safety.
“We are always concerned about the safety of our children, particularly when they are ill and require medications and when they are in pain. OxyCotin is not intended to be the first opioid drug used in pediatric patients, but the data show that changing from another opioid drug to OxyCotin is safe if done properly.”
Along with the rules on when to administer OxyContin to kids, there are additional rules on dosage, including how long a child should be on the medication altogether. Reportedly, unlike for adults, children cannot take the intense effects of OxyContin for too long.
“Children are not treated with opioids very often and usually it’s only for a limited period of time with close supervision by health care professionals. In pediatric patients who require opioid treatment to manage pain, extended-release opioids may be a useful alternative because they are taken only once or twice per day rather than every 4 to 6 hours.”
Because OxyContin is one of those medications that have been the source of drug addiction, the FDA instructs via Hertz that opioids prescriptions like OxyContin should not be extended for children.
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