Medicine

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

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

Instead, the company said it will direct prescribers to materials published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the office of the US surgeon general. According to new details released in a 2017 Washington state lawsuit, Purdue's sales staff collected data to find the highest prescribers it could and then aggressively market its drugs to those individuals.

Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the powerful painkiller OxyContin, said on Saturday it will stop marketing opioid drugs to physicians following a slew of lawsuits against the company over the opioid epidemic, The Hill reports.

US deaths linked to opioids have quadrupled since 2000 to roughly 42,000 in 2016, or about 115 lives lost per day.

Doctors with opioid-related questions will be directed to its medical affairs department.

The company's statement 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.

Purdue's sales representatives will now focus on the Symproic drug created to treat opioid-induced constipation, and other non-opioid products.

Andrew Kolodny, from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management's Opioid Policy Research, said that the impact of Purdue's decision is small but there could be a bigger effect if other opioid makers will stop the aggressive marketing of their products.

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OxyContin has always been the world's top-selling opioid painkiller, bringing in billions in sales for the privately-held company.

Purdue has faced criticism for more than a decade that it has aggressively and irresponsibly pushed the sale of its drug OxyContin.

"It is hard to promote more cautious prescribing to the medical community because opioid manufacturers promote opioid use", he said. But he said the companies have promoted them as a treatment for chronic pain, where they are more harmful and less helpful, because it's more profitable.

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

Among other opioid producers, Endo International Plc agreed in July to pull its Opana ER painkiller after the Food and Drug Administration called for its withdrawal.

The move comes as opioid addiction continues to take a devastating toll on large swathes of the United States.

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


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