OxyContin maker Purdue cuts sales team, won't market opioids

OxyContin maker Purdue cuts sales team, won't market opioids

The company that makes OxyContin says it will no longer market opioids to doctors.

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

Purdue "vigorously denies" any misconduct, saying it has consistently followed the CDC's opioid guidelines including not recommending opioids as a first option.

The lawsuits say Purdue misled prescribers and the public by marketing opioids as a safe substitute for non-addictive pain medications such as ibuprofen and contributed to an increase in heroin use.

Prescription opioid giant Purdue Pharma will stop promoting its opioid drugs to doctors, a retreat after years of criticism that the company's aggressive sales efforts helped lay the foundation for the USA addiction crisis. Its sales representatives will now focus on Symproic, a drug for treating opioid-induced constipation, and other potential non-opioid products, Purdue said.

Eventually, Purdue acknowledged that its promotions exaggerated the drug's safety and minimized the risks of addiction.


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. Opioid litigation increased sharply in 2017 when hundreds of cities, counties and states sued opioid makers, wholesalers, distributors and marketers. It is also facing a federal investigation by the US Attorney's Office in CT, where the company is based.

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.

Will the policy change have an impact?

Opioids killed more than 42,000 people in 2016 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 40 percent of those deaths involved a prescription opioid. The company in 2007 paid out $600 million to settle civil and criminal charges related to the drug's marketing, with three company executives agreeing to pay an additional $34.5 million.

Purdue's head of medical affairs, Monica Kwarcinski, sent a letter to prescribers updating the company's efforts to support responsible opioid use.

About 115 people die in the United States every day from an opioid overdose. Most opioid deaths involve illicit drugs such as heroin.

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