Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the powerful painkiller OxyContin, said on Saturday it will stop marketing opioid drugs to physicians following a slew of lawsuits against the company over the opioid epidemic, The Hill reports. OxyContin has always been the world's top-selling opioid painkiller, bringing in billions in sales for privately held Purdue, which also sells a newer and longer-lasting opioid drug called Hysingla.
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. Purdue Pharma's medical affairs team will now field any questions regarding pain medications from doctors.
OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma said it will tell doctors about its decision Monday. Purdue for years made the case that OxyContin was less addictive than other opioid painkillers, and that the risks of opioid addiction in general were overblown - claims partly rooted in a decades-old anecdotal letter rather than scientific research.
Purdue "vigorously denies" any misconduct, saying it has consistently followed the CDC's opioid guidelines including not recommending opioids as a first option. It will now have about 200 sales representatives, Purdue said. "Millions of Americans are now opioid-addicted because the campaign that Purdue and other opioid manufacturers used to increase prescribing worked well".
The pill, a time-release version of oxycodone, was hailed as a breakthrough treatment for chronic pain when it was approved in late 1995. Instead, the company said it will direct prescribers to materials published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the office of the USA surgeon general.
On its website, Purdue-which is a privately held company-is positioning itself as still wanting to be a player in pain management going forward. 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.