The powerful painkiller OxyContin can now be prescribed to children as young as 11, the Food and Drug Administration has decided.
The FDA requested that the drug’s manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, conduct studies to determine the safety of OxyContin for pediatric patients, and found that it would be safe for those in the 11 to 16 age range to take the drug, NBC News reports. However, before a doctor can prescribe OxyContin, the child must already be responding to and tolerating a certain dosage of opioids, so the doctor is sure that the patient will be safe.
OxyContin is used as a long-release version of oxycodone; it is to be taken every 12 hours rather than every 4 to 6 hours for long-term pain management. Comparatively few children require such a drug, which is often used in response to major surgery, cancer or injuries. The drug is notoriously abused by drug addicts, and was reformulated in 2010 to making crushing and snorting or injecting it more difficult. The only other long-release opioid with FDA labeling for pediatric patients is the Duragesic patch, which uses fentanyl.