Oxycontin Maker Purdue Pharma To Stop Agressive Marketing Of Opioids

Ebony Scott
February 12, 2018

Purdue, which has reportedly generated approximately $35 billion dollars in revenue, in a statement said it had "restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers". The CDC says more than three out of five drug overdose deaths involve opioids - and that annual deaths from heroin and prescription opioids have increased more than five-fold since 1999, including 42,000 deaths in 2016. The remaining 200 sales reps will focus on non-opioid drugs such as Symproic, the company said.

A drugmaker says it will no longer market its opioid products in doctors' offices after facing backlash for the way the industry promotes the addictive drugs.

Purdue and other drugmakers have been fighting lawsuits by states, counties and cities that have accused them of pushing addictive painkillers through deceptive marketing. The company will still handle requests from doctors who have questions about drugs such as OxyContin, through its medical affairs department.

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.

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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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. It has said its drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and account for only 2 percent of all opioid prescriptions.

At least 14 states have sued privately held Purdue. It later acknowledged that its promotions exaggerated the safety of the drug and minimized its risk for addiction.

Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty in 2007 to felony charges for false marketing of OxyContin and paid $635 million as a result.

U.S. President Donald Trump has drawn criticism for his response to the opioid crisis.

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