Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
Health | By Jay Jacobs

OxyContin Maker to Stop Marketing Opioid Products to Physicians

OxyContin Maker to Stop Marketing Opioid Products to Physicians

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 promote their product. The drugmaker is fighting hundreds of lawsuits accusing it of using deceptive methods to sell the addictive painkiller.

"We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers", the Stamford, Connecticut-based company said in a statement.

Kolodny said that opioids are useful for cancer patients who are suffering from severe pain, and for people who only need a pain medication for a few days. Many of those overdoses are attributed to other opioids, including fentanyl and heroin, which OxyContin users often switch to after becoming addicted to the painkiller.

Alabama last Tuesday became the latest state to file a lawsuit accusing the private CT company of fueling the USA epidemic by misrepresenting the risks and benefits of opioids. But some users quickly discovered they could get a heroin-like high by crushing the pills and snorting or injecting the entire dose at once.

In recent years, several USA states, counties and cities have mounted legal cases accusing prescription drug companies of helping to drive a devastating opioid overdose epidemic in the United States.

Purdue has been sued by many state attorneys general as part of the battle against opioids that has accelerated in the last two years since the DEA and CDC have ratcheted up regulatory pressure on the prescription and supply of opioids.

Purdue and three former executives pleaded guilty in federal court a decade ago to criminal charges of misleading the public about the addictive nature of OxyContin, paying more than $630 million in fines and penalties.

Will the policy change have an impact?

"It is hard to promote more cautious prescribing to the medical community because opioid manufacturers promote opioid use", he said.

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

State lawsuits against Purdue have mounted in recent months as governments at all levels have struggled to combat the opioid epidemic - much of which, experts say, was caused by excessive prescription of powerful painkillers like OxyContin. That's about 115 deaths per day.

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