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FDA Approves OxyContin Prescriptions for 11-Year-Olds

Thanks to the Food and Drug Administration, children as young as 11 years old can now be prescribed OxyContin, an addictive opiate drug prescribed for pain relief.

The FDA approved OxyContin for extremely ill children to improve their quality of life when they need "daily, round-the-clock, long-term" pain relief.

Pediatric cancer patients are among the children targeted for this drug's use, with doctors claiming OxyContin is a way to ease the suffering of children who are at the end of their lives.

Having access to long-acting painkillers "is going to be tremendously helpful for treating children with cancer pain or pain at the end of life," said Justin Baker, pediatric oncologist, and hospice and palliative medicine doctor at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Long-acting medications prevent "breakthrough pain," so that youngsters can feel comfortable and "focus their energy on being a kid instead of fighting their pain," Baker said.

Scott Hadland, a specialist in adolescent medicine and substance abuse treatment at Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School told USA Today, "Among adolescents who are prescribed OxyContin, a small but significant number are going to become addicted."

Adult abusers of the drug have found that ingesting the pills by crushing them and inhaling the powder will result in an immediate high. In 2010, the Substance Abuse and Health Services Administration reported that 182,748 visits to emergency rooms across the United States were the result of use or misuse of oxycodone products, including OxyContin.

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