Burns resolution urging elimination of OxyContin prescriptions for teens clears House committee

HARRISBURG, May 8 – Hoping to weaken the link between prescription drugs and opioid addiction, state Rep. Frank Burns today announced progress on his resolution seeking to pressure the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to reverse its decision to allow OxyContin to be prescribed for 11- to 16-year-olds.

Burns’ H.R. 17 cleared the House Human Services Committee unanimously and now heads to the full House for consideration.

Burns noted that despite its status as an extended-release version of the opioid oxydocone, OxyContin was approved by the FDA in 2015 for prescribing to children as a pain management medication.

“In recent years, we’ve all become aware that the highly addictive nature of opioids means that many adults are ‘hooked’ on legally prescribed medicines, then turn to illicit and more dangerous drugs like heroin to maintain their habits,” Burns said. “Given what we know, I ask you: Does it make sense to prescribe opioids to an 11-year-old?”

While the state legislature has no direct say in the decisions of a federal government agency, Burns said his goal is to use the legislature’s bully pulpit to help convince federal rule-makers that they should reverse course.

“Four out of five new heroin users started out misusing prescription pain medication, which resulted in heroin overdose deaths nearly quadrupling from 2000 to 2013 – and it’s only gotten worse since then,” Burns said.

Burns added that according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, opioid addiction resulted in 18,893 overdose deaths related to prescription pain medications, while 10,574 overdose deaths were attributed to heroin use in 2014.

“If we have recognized their deadly potential and are acting to limit the adult abuse of prescription opioid painkillers, it should logically follow that we impose those same restrictions on children, who are much more vulnerable,” Burns said.