Purdue Pharma: "We're Not Going to See the Doctor"

Frederick Owens
February 12, 2018

In a surprise reversal, the maker of the powerful painkiller OxyContin said Saturday that it will stop promoting opioid drugs to doctors.

OxyContin has always been the world's top-selling opioid painkiller.

The US drugmaker said it will inform doctors on Monday that its sales representatives will no longer be visiting doctors' offices to discuss its opioid products. The company will still handle requests from doctors who have questions about drugs such as OxyContin, through its medical affairs department.

The decision by Purdue Pharma comes as the industry battles an avalanche of lawsuits across the nation related to the opioid crisis.

Purdue, a privately held company based in Stamford, Conn., has been slammed with lawsuits claiming the company has downplayed OxyContin's addiction risk.

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

Purdue's sales representatives will now focus on the Symproic drug created to treat opioid-induced constipation, and other non-opioid products. The company continues to be the largest seller of prescription painkillers in the United States, and also has a prescription sleep aid line of drugs and over-counter-products. "We are committed to being part of the solution by partnering with local law enforcement, state and local government agencies, and community groups across the country". Because OxyContin was an extended release version of Oxycodone, requiring use only once every twelve hours, many initially believed that it would be less addictive than other narcotics.

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.

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.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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