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California Legislature

California state senator proposes banning prescriptions of powerful painkiller oxycodone for those under 21

 (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Seeking to stem the growing opioid abuse crisis, a California state senator is proposing to prohibit prescriptions of the painkiller oxycodone for anyone under the age of 21.

Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) said his measure, SB 419, would stop younger people from getting early exposure to the highly addictive pain drug, commonly known by its brand name, OxyContin.

“The abuse of this drug is a national epidemic and we need to protect our children from being prescribed this highly addictive substance," Portantino said in a statement. "Lawmakers, regulators and medical professionals have been wrestling with how best to control this synthetic heroin and I’m saying, while we’re looking for solutions, let’s make sure we keep it away from our most vulnerable population."

A Los Angeles Times investigation last year detailed how OxyContin has become one of the most abused drugs in the nation, in part because the medication wears off hours earlier than the advertised 12-hour dose.

OxyContin is a chemical cousin of heroin and a recent study indicated that efforts to clamp down on painkiller abuse have led to a resurgence in heroin, as addicts seek out a cheaper substitute.

“We should not be giving our young people a gateway drug that can lead to illicit drug abuse such as heroin," Portantino said. "What we all need is a time-out and pause for the health and well-being of our children."

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