Medical

OxyContin maker will stop marketing opioids to doctors, company says

OxyContin maker will stop marketing opioids to doctors, company says

The company and three executives pleaded guilty in 2007 for misleading the public about the risks of the drug but Oxycontin continued to generate blockbuster sales.

Purdue Pharma will no longer target US 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.

State lawsuits against Purdue have mounted in recent months as governments at all levels have struggled to combat the opioid epidemic - much of which, experts say, was caused by excessive prescription of powerful painkillers like OxyContin. Purdue Pharma has total revenue of about $3 billion, with perhaps a third of the total coming from painkiller OxyContin. But drug abusers quickly discovered they could snort or inject crushed pills to induce a heroin-like high.

Doctors with opioid-related questions will be directed to its medical affairs department. It is also facing a federal investigation by the US Attorney's Office in CT, where the company is based.

"We would have more success in encouraging cautious prescribing if drug companies stopped promoting aggressive prescribing", he told the Times.

"They are still doing this overseas", Kolodny said of their global arm Mundipharma.




The company said it has consistently followed opioid guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, which include a recommendation that opioids not be the first option for chronic pain. Another drugmaker, Insys, said it was not able to comment immediately, while Teva Pharmaceutical Industries did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company slashed more than half of its current sales force, alerting staff to the changes in a letter earlier this week. 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. It said those companies have separate leadership and operate according to local regulations.

The prescription pill is the world's top-selling opioid painkiller and has raked in billions for Purdue since it was introduced in 1996. The lawsuits say 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.

Kolodny is serving as an expert advising the court in those lawsuits.

USA deaths linked to opioids have quadrupled since 2000 to roughly 42,000 in 2016, or about 115 lives lost per day. Although initially driven by prescription drugs, most opioid deaths now involve illicit drugs, including heroin and fentanyl.


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