Thursday, July 5, 2012

OxyContin For Kids In The Pursuit Of Profits

In an attempt to extend the patent protection of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma is conducting clinical trials of  the narcotic in children ages six to sixteen. The company is doing this because OxyContin currently rakes in $2.8 billion a year. Purdue hopes to prolong its Oxy patent by another six months if the FDA approves its studies. That would work out to $1.4 billion of extra sales. That sounds like an investment any company would make.

But is it a wise move for children? OxyContin is one of the most addictive prescription pain medicines on the market. Its destructive properties have been widely publicized. The drug has been implicated in the addictions or deaths of numerous celebrities, including Rush Limbaugh, Lindsey Lohan, and Heath Ledger. The CDC estimates that one in five high school students have used prescription drugs without a doctor's prescription. How do they get the drugs? Usually from their parents' medicine cabinet or, if they have the money, the local street dealer.

I'm not saying that children don't feel pain. They have nerve endings just like everybody else. But children are incredibly adaptable in dealing with pain and injury. Usually an NSAID or acetaminophen is all that is required to alleviate pain in kids. If a narcotic is required, something less potent like Tylenol #3 is more than adequate for almost all maladies. Now if the FDA approves OxyContin use for children, I'm afraid that we'll be raising a whole new generation of drug addicts before they even have a chance to grow up and make mature decisions for themselves about what they want to put into their bodies. Or worse we'll have an army of kid drug dealers going through our schools distributing their doctors' prescriptions to any willing buddy with cash. You think pain doctors have a difficult time catching drug addicts hoarding prescriptions for narcotics? Wait til they have to say no to a parent who demands more OxyContin for their poor suffering Johnny because he has uncontrollable pain. The only one who wins in this pursuit is the drug company itself.

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