OxyContin maker will stop promoting opioids to doctors

OxyContin maker will stop promoting opioids to doctors

OxyContin maker will stop promoting opioids to doctors

In a surprise move, Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the opiate painkiller OxyContin, has said that it will reduce its direct sales force and stop the direct marketing of opiates to doctors.

Purdue's decision to entirely stop marketing the drug in the USA comes amid a new wave of legal action, reminiscent of the legal campaign against tobacco companies in the 1990s.

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. Instead, any questions doctors have will be directed to the Stamford, Conn. -based company's medical affairs department.

"We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers", the company said.

Purdue and other opioid makers and distributors face dozens of lawsuits - including from New Hampshire and the cities of Manchester and Nashua - in which they're accused of creating a public health crisis through their marketing of the painkillers.

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"Overall, the impact will be small because the genie is out of the bottle", Kolodny said. 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.

Purdue "vigorously denies" any misconduct, saying it has consistently followed the CDC's opioid guidelines including not recommending opioids as a first option. The FDA approved OxyContin in 1995, and the drug was hailed as a medical breakthrough because of its ability to help patients suffering from moderate to severe pain. 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 2010 Purdue reformulated OxyContin to make it harder to crush and stopped selling the original form of the drug.

Purdue's promotions exaggerated the drug's safety and risks of addiction, leading to lawsuits and federal investigations.

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