Should We Be Concerned With Giving 11 Year Olds Oxycontin?

The FDA approval of a pediatric indication for Oxycontin creates a safer situation for terminally ill children.

Recently, the FDA made headlines by approving Oxycontin for children as young as 11. This approval sparked uproar across the nation. Many who are against the approval fear that giving an addictive medication to 11-year-olds will create 11-year-old drug addicts. People are outraged that the FDA would allow this to happen. But what they don’t realize is that by approving this drug, the FDA has actually created a safer situation for its use.

The horrified population does not realize that this medication was already being used without FDA approval. Children with severe pain issues (such as those with terminal cancer) were being administered this medication, but the effects on children hadn’t yet been extensively studied.

Obtaining FDA approval means that the company that makes Oxycontin has conducted studies on the use and safety of this medication in children, and the results were submitted to the FDA. This will allow medical professionals to properly determine how much medication a child needs instead of attempting to calculate pediatric dosing based on adult dosages. I think this aspect of the approval is great – we are expanding our knowledge of a formerly gray area and creating a safer situation for children receiving the medication.1

People are concerned that the administration of this medication will make children addicted to opiates. While this is always a scary thought, we must remember that the children receiving Oxycontin are the ones who truly need it. These patients are closely monitored, and they are weaned off of these medications in a way that prevents withdrawal symptoms. In addition, I imagine children who come from responsible households are not going to have unrestricted access to their highly addictive pain medications. Instead, they will be given the medication as directed, limiting the possibility for abuse.

This article originally appeared on Clinical Advisor