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OxyContin maker will stop marketing opioids to doctors, company says

11 February 2018

The Connecticut-based drugmaker said that it has already reduced its sales representative to 200 and has restructured its commercial operation.The drug company said that its sales representatives will longer visit doctors' offices to promote the company's opioid products.

The company slashed more than half of its current sales force, alerting staff to the changes in a letter earlier this week. Purdue's announcement said it dispensed with the greater part its business staff a week ago and will never again send deals agents to specialists' workplaces to talk about opioid drugs. "Requests for information about our opioid products will be handled through direct communication with the highly experienced healthcare professionals that comprise our Medical Affairs department".

Purdue has faced criticism for more than a decade that it has aggressively and irresponsibly pushed the sale of its drug OxyContin.

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The lawsuits say Purdue misled prescribers and the public by marketing opioids as a safe substitute for non-addictive pain medications such as ibuprofen and contributed to an increase in heroin use.

Purdue Pharma will no longer target USA doctors in its efforts to sell OxyContin, a prescription opioid whose overprescription fueled America's opioid crisis - and made billions for Purdue's founding family.

The lawsuits have generally accused Purdue of downplaying OxyContin's addiction risk and of misleading marketing that overstated the benefits of opioids for treating chronic, rather than short-term, pain. The company in 2007 paid out $600 million to settle civil and criminal charges related to the drug's marketing, with three company executives agreeing to pay an additional $34.5 million.

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He said Purdue's decision is helpful, but it won't make a major difference unless other opioid drug companies do the same. The company's top lawyer, former president and former chief medical pleaded guilty to misbranding the drug. It later acknowledged that its promotions exaggerated the safety of the drug and minimized its risk for addiction.

The drug maker recently attempted to recast itself as an advocate in the fight to end the opioid crisis, while maintaining an aggressive sales push.

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. The CDC also reported that more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for prescription opioid overdoses. The institute also found that the United States is the biggest consumer of hydrocodone in the world, taking in nearly 100 percent of the world's doses.

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OxyContin maker will stop marketing opioids to doctors, company says