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Lollipop draws consumer group's ire.

Lollipop draws consumer grouphs ire

Public Citizen Health Research Group (HRG) wants the Food and Drug Administration to halt clinical trials of a grape-flavored lollipop laced with a powerful narcotic called fentanyl. HRG is a Washington-based consumer organization.

Anesta Corp. of Salt Lake City has tested the product as a presurgical sedative on more than 180 children. Doctors give the product to anxious children before surgery, says Brian Hague, Anesta's director of research and development and co-inventor of the bullet-shaped candy-narcotic on a stick. Hospitals now may give pediatric patients a fentanyl injection before an operation, a practice that unnecessarily frightens children, Hague says.

But HRG Director Sidney M. Wolfe contends the narcotic lollipop sends the wrong message to children. "A potent narcotic in a candy matrix clearly targeted at children is inappropriate," he says in a letter sent to FDA Commissioner Frank Young. Wolfe believes hospitals can calm children without drugs by using hypnosis or by letting parents stay with the children during preoperative anesthesia.

Wolfe also expresses concern about the product's potential for abuse. "Fentanyl, the active ingredient in the lollipops, is already a leading drug of abuse among health professionals and street users," he says. Anesta officials label that worry groundless, saying their product would be available only to anesthesiologists. In addition, it does not produce the "high sought by drug users, Hague says. The product also leaves a telltale purple stain on the tongue as a deterrent to pilfering, Hague notes.

FDA officials are considering HRG's petition, but have not decided whether to allow clinical testing of the product to continue. FDA's Bill Grigg says the product has some merit, especially for children who need repeated painful procedures.
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Title Annotation:lollipop laced with narcotic to calm children before surgery
Publication:Science News
Date:Mar 11, 1989
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