Published: Mon, February 12, 2018
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

Maker of Oxycontin to cease marketing efforts to doctors

Maker of Oxycontin to cease marketing efforts to doctors

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.

In a statement to The Verge, a Purdue spokesperson says that "we have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers".

The company said it is reducing its sales staff by more than half, and that its remaining salespeople will no longer visit doctor's offices to push their product.

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Purdue, a privately held company based in Stamford, Conn., has been slammed with lawsuits claiming the company has downplayed OxyContin's addiction risk. As the country continues to battle with an opioid epidemic, one of the largest producers of prescription opioids has made an important marketing decision that may potentially impact the war on addictive drugs. It will now have about 200 sales representatives, Purdue said.

Purdue's head of medical affairs, Monica Kwarcinski, sent a letter to prescribers updating the company's efforts to support responsible opioid use. The drug was marketed as a non-addictive treatment for chronic pain. Purdue sold the drug by trying to convince Doctors that previous concerns regarding opioid addiction and abuse had been overdone and resulted in patient pain and discomfort that could have been effectively treated.

A surge in prescriptions of opioids followed the 1995 release of the drug when about 90 million opioid prescriptions were filled. Instead, the company said it will direct prescribers to materials published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the office of the USA surgeon general. "But if other opioid manufacturers would do the same, it would have a bigger effect". Purdue officials confirmed in November that they were in settlement talks with a group of state attorneys general and trying to come up with a global resolution of the government opioid claims.

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