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In Search of a Safe Painkiller for Kids

Recognizing and treating pain in children has always been a sensitive issue. While thirty years ago doctors questioned whether infants could even feel pain, various new MRI studies suggest that infants feel pain more intensely than adults.

But how to treat that pain is still a question of contention. The FDA recently approved the use of OxyContin for children but many doctors believe the decision will harm more children than it helps.

“Recognizing pain in children is one problem; managing it is another. With only 12 percent of clinical drug trials in the United States incorporating pediatric testing, doctors simply don’t know how to safely prescribe most medications to children, much less risky narcotics—which is why, when the FDA approved the use of OxyContin for children this past August, the news rocked the pediatric-pain world. For the first time, the agency was sanctioning an opioid drug for children as young as 11 years old. On the one hand, a proven effective painkiller would finally be available for suffering children—but on the other hand, recent history suggests that the decision may harm some of the kids it’s meant to help.” Read more.

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