Maker of OxyContin to stop promoting opioids to doctors

by Jared Lewis February 12, 2018, 0:30
Maker of OxyContin to stop promoting opioids to doctors

Purdue Pharma will no longer target USA doctors in its efforts to sell OxyContin, a prescription opioid whose overprescription fueled America's opioid crisis - and made billions for Purdue's founding family.

"We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers", the company said.

The company also said it eliminated more than half its sales staff this week and will no longer send sales representatives to doctors' offices to discuss opioid drugs. Doctors with questions about opioids will be directed to the company's medical affairs department.

Up to one in four people who received prescriptions for opioid drugs such as OxyContin struggle with opioid addiction, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Purdue's decision to entirely stop marketing the drug in the US comes amid a new wave of legal action, reminiscent of the legal campaign against tobacco companies in the 1990s. Because OxyContin was an extended release version of Oxycodone, requiring use only once every twelve hours, many initially believed that it would be less addictive than other narcotics.

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma said it will tell doctors about its decision Monday.

Purdue and other drugmakers have been fighting lawsuits by states, counties and cities that have accused them of pushing addictive painkillers through deceptive marketing.

Purdue said in a statement that it is reducing its sales force by more than 50%.

At least 14 states have sued privately held Purdue.

Alabama last Tuesday became the latest state to file a lawsuit accusing the private CT company of fueling the US epidemic by misrepresenting the risks and benefits of opioids.

In 2007, Purdue Pharma and three of its executives pleaded guilty to criminal charges of misrepresenting their product's addictiveness, and paid a total of $635 million in fines. He has yet to declare it a national emergency as he pledged to do in August following a recommendation by a presidential commission.

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