August 21, 2015

Outrageous!: Don’t give OxyContin to children | Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Just when you think things possibly can’t get any worse in Washington, here comes an outrageous announcement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In a bewildering and simply unacceptable decision, the FDA has now ruled that it is OK for children as young as 11 years of age to use OxyContin.


We are talking about OxyContin, the same highly addictive and powerful painkiller that led to a scourge of deadly prescription drug abuse here in the mountains of southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia years ago.

The abuse of OxyContin reached epidemic levels here in the mountains — giving birth to a horrific problem with prescription narcotic abuse that continues to plague the area to this very day. Things got so bad — including reports of man who allegedly traded a mule for OxyContin — that Time magazine came to town to chronicle the rise of the so-called “Hillbilly Heroin.” What in the world is the FDA thinking? Do we really want children to become addicted to such a powerful painkiller. This is a disaster waiting to happen. Thankfully, at least one lawmaker in our region is standing up to this outrageous decision.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is correctly demanding that the FDA reconsider this dangerous move and is also calling for a U.S. Senate investigation into the matter.

“This recent decision by the FDA to prescribe OxyContin to children as young as 11 years old is a horrifying example of the disconnect between the FDA approval process and the realities the deadly epidemic of prescription drug abuse are having on our communities,” Manchin said. “We have years of evidence that shows that drug use at an early age makes a child more likely to abuse drugs later in life. We don’t sell cigarettes or alcohol to minors, we should treat prescription drugs the same and protect our children from these harmful drugs.”

In a letter to Dr. Stephen Ostroff, acting commissioner of food and drugs for the FDA, Manchin calls the FDA move a “reckless” and “disgusting” act that will endanger the lives of young children.

“Today, there are 2.1 million Americans abusing or dependent on opioids,” Manchin said in the letter to Ostroff. “In addition, 44 people die every single day as a result of a prescription opioid overdose. These drugs are destroying lives and devastating communities. I have pleaded with your agency since I became a senator almost five years ago to cease the flood of painkillers that is killing so many people in my state and around the country. Instead, you continue to ignore the agency’s purpose and show allegiances with everyone but the people you are charged to protect.”

We, too, are appalled by this preposterous and dangerous decision of the FDA. Not only must this decision be reversed, but those who think it is OK to prescribe highly-additive painkillers to small children should be held accountable for their actions. This is no different than a drug dealer illegally peddling narcotics to children on a city street.

Congress should act quickly to demand accountability and a full investigation into this horrible decision.