Reaction to children's OxyContin clinical trials

FRESNO, California

Purdue Pharma is in the process of testing OxyContin on children ages six to 16 years old. A company representative tells Action News it will help paint an accurate picture of what doses are appropriate for kids. But one recovering OxyContin addict says it could lead them down the dangerous path of addiction.

Tony Hoffman told Action News, "First time I used it, I fell in love with it."

Hoffman was just 19-years-old when he was first introduced to the powerful pain medication, OxyContin. He said, "And by the time it was an everyday thing, you were going through withdrawals if you didn't use it."

From there, Hoffman went on to try other drugs like heroine. His addiction eventually spiraled out of control, leaving him homeless, and at one point, in prison for a home invasion robbery.

Hoffman said, "That was the weight that pulled me underwater completely."

Now 28, Hoffman is five years sober. He's also a professional BMX rider, who spends his free time teaching kids about the importance of staying clean.

Because OxyContin almost ruined his life, he fears the same could happen to the 154 children participating in Purdue Pharma's clinical study.

A representative with the company says kids with severe health problems including cancer and burns already use the drug and that this study will help doctors better prescribe it.

Dr. Richard Sakai, the pharmacy director at Children's Hospital Central California, supports the study. He said, "We often dose some of our pediatric patients when there's not much data available based on how we monitor our patients very completely, so as a result, having studies that are very objective allows us to effective and safe care for the kids that we serve."

Dr. Sakai adds, the trials will be closely monitored. If anything, that's all Tony Hoffman can hope for. "What is this setting up for kids in the future? What does that do to them later in the years as far as drug dependency with opiates go?"

A Purdue Pharma representative says kids taking part in this study had already been using some type of opiate for their medical conditions. These trials will likely secure an extra six months of patent protection for the company, which is set to expire next year.

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