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Manchin wants hearings on OxyContin for kids

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Sen. Joe Manchin wants the U.S. Senate to hold hearings on the Food and Drug Administration’s recent decision to approve, in limited cases, prescriptions for the widely abused painkiller OxyContin for children as young as 11 years old.

Manchin, D-W.Va., and eight other senators (six Democrats, one Republican, one independent) wrote a letter Wednesday to the leadership of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee urging hearings on the FDA’s decision, as well as on the “exponential rise in the misuse and abuse of opioid painkillers.”

There are 2.1 million Americans abusing or dependent on opioid painkillers, the senators write, and 44 people die each day from overdoses on prescription painkillers.

“As we work to stop this crisis, the FDA’s decision to approve the use of OxyContin in pediatric patients is a step in the wrong direction,” the senators write, “as it may lead to an increase in inappropriate prescribing and use among a population that are already at a higher risk for developing dependency and addiction.”

In mid-August, the FDA approved the use of OxyContin, a powerful prescription painkiller, for use in children ages 11 to 16 suffering from cancer, major trauma or major surgery and needing at least several weeks of pain management…

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