FDA Approves OxyContin for Children as Young as 11 - NBC News

OxyContin was reformulated in 2010 to make it harder for addicts to crush the pills for a quick high. AP

Purdue reformulated OxyContin five years ago to make it harder for patients to crush the pills for a fast high. But the new use is still likely to be highly controversial, owing to the staggering death and illness figures attributed to opioids, which include Vicodin and Percocet in addition to OxyContin and other versions of oxycodone.

An average of 44 people die in the U.S. from opioids every day,

according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Opioids are having a considerable impact on public health and safety in communities across the United States," Michael Botticelli, the Obama administration's director of National Drug Control Policy, told the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime last month.

Opioids are responsible for almost 37 percent of all U.S. overdose deaths, Botticelli said — a figure that likely understates their real impact because "around one-quarter of death certificates do not list the drug responsible for [a] fatal drug overdose."

Related:

Read Michael Botticelli's Full Statement to Congress (PDF)Hertz said the FDA was putting strict limits on the use of OxyContin in children. Unlike adults, children must already have shown that they can handle the drug by tolerating a minimum dose equal to 20 milligrams of oxycodone for five consecutive days, she said.

"We are always concerned about the safety of our children, particularly when they are ill and require medications and when they are in pain," she said. "OxyContin is not intended to be the first opioid drug used in pediatric patients, but the data show that changing from another opioid drug to OxyContin is safe if done properly."

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