The Food and Drug Administration has approved the powerful narcotic painkiller OxyContin for children as young as 11.
OxyContin, an extended-release version of the painkiller oxycodone, has gained notoriety in recent years because of its frequent abuse. In 2010, Purdue Pharma reformulated OxyContin to make it more difficult to abuse.
Some experts are concerned that younger patients could be more likely to get addicted to the drug.
The FDA said children generally have fewer pain relief options than adults. Because of that problem, the FDA asked Purdue to perform studies to see if the drug could be used safely in children ages 11 to 16 with pain caused by cancer, trauma or major surgery, said Sharon Hertz, a physician with the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
The FDA says children can use OxyContin only if they need long-term pain relief and have no other options.
The drug will be used for patients dealing with cancer, trauma and those recovering from surgery.
Some pediatric cancer doctors supported the FDA decision.