Purdue Pharma stops pushing opioids

OxyContin manufacturer will stop marketing opioids, cuts sales staff in half

Pharma Giant Purdue to Stop Promoting Its Opioid Drugs, Including OxyContin, to Doctors

The report charges that numerous advocacy groups, buoyed by drug company money, started undercutting state and federal efforts to curb opioid prescribing and using other "opioids-friendly messaging".

"We are deeply troubled by the opioid crisis, and we are dedicated to being part of the solution", the company said.

"Purdue also said it will start referring opioid-related requests and questions from prescribers to health-care professionals in its medical affairs department". Much of the current damage being done by the opioid epidemic is due to street drugs like heroin and fentanyl, which users have turned to in the absence of the prescription painkillers that first made them dependent on opioids. There also won't be sales representatives showing up at doctors' offices to promote the drug.

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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.

The suits allege that drugmakers misled doctors and patients about the risks of opioids by enlisting "front groups" and "key opinion leaders" who oversold the drugs' benefits and encouraged overprescribing. He said he doesn't take Purdue's motivations at face value. In a particularly high-profile action, the regulator previous year demanded Endo International plc remove its extended release opioid pain medication Opana ER (oxymorphone) from the market.

After years of marketing testimonial videos and handing doctors pamphlets claiming only about 1 percent of opioid users become addicted, Purdue Pharma - the nation's largest opioid manufacturer - corrected its marketing in 2001.

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Purdue is now facing multiple lawsuits filed by more than 400 cities and states alleging the drug maker misrepresented OxyContin's risks, creating an expensive public health crisis taxpayers had to handle. In the legal claims, the governments seek money and changes to how the industry operates, including an end to the use of outside groups to push their drugs. Deaths from prescription drugs alone have quadrupled since 1999, the CDC reported.

According to a report featured in the American Journal of Public Health, The Promotion and Marketing of OxyContin: Commercial Triumph, Public Health Tragedy, since the release of OxyContin in 1996, Purdue Pharma has generated estimated sales of over $35 billion dollars. Along with its pullback from opioid marketing, it launched an ad campaign at the end of previous year that involved taking out full-page ads in national newspapers promoting its efforts to address the opioid epidemic.

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