Tampa doctors divided over OxyContin use for kids following FDA decision

OxyContin was reformulated in 2010 to make it harder for addicts to crush the pills for a quick high. (AP Photo)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A dangerous drug or a potential lifesaver?

Medical doctors and families alike are divided in the Bay area after learning kids will now be allowed to take the powerful prescription drug OxyContin.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” said Dr. Michael Strolla, an addiction specialist at HealthCare Connection of Tampa.

Dr. Strolla believes the potential for abuse makes the drug just too risky.

“You have something you are trying to treat legitimately and honestly, but in the long run, you are exposing a very young person to a lifelong addiction, a disease that has no cure,” said Dr. Strolla.

Not so fast, warns Tampa doctor Jill Hechtman.

“This is not going to be like your child comes to the hospital with a broken arm and is given OxyContin,” said Hechtman.

According to the FDA, the prescription of the drug will be highly regulated, only being offered to young patients who have a high tolerance to opioids and a history of chronic pain.

“This is going to give guidance to patients that really need it and it’s a very small subset of patients that are going to be using this kind of medication,” said Dr. Hechtman.

But after her daughter became addicted to pain killers in high school, local anti-drug advocate Ellen Snelling doesn’t buy that explanation.

“To think of a young child who is using it for pain or for any other reason is, I just feel like it’s insane because at this time we are trying to do everything we can to stop prescription drug abuse and heroin addiction, why introduce this into the mix?” said Snelling, who serves on the Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance.

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