Maker of OxyContin to stop promoting opioids to doctors

The maker of the powerful painkiller Oxy Contin said it will stop marketing opioid drugs to doctors a surprise reversal after lawsuits blamed the company for helping trigger the current drug abuse epidemic. Oxy Contin has long been the world's top-selling

Prescription opioid giant Purdue Pharma will stop promoting its opioid drugs to doctors, a retreat after years of criticism that the company's aggressive sales efforts helped lay the foundation for the US addiction crisis. Purdue Pharma has total revenue of about $3 billion, with perhaps a third of the total coming from painkiller OxyContin. Instead, any questions doctors have will be directed to the Stamford, Conn. -based company's medical affairs department.

About 200 remaining Purdue salespeople will focus on promoting the company's drug to treat opioid-induced constipation, Symproic.

He said Purdue's decision is helpful, but it won't make a major difference unless other opioid drug companies do the same.

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Purdue "vigorously denies" any misconduct, saying it has consistently followed the CDC's opioid guidelines including not recommending opioids as a first option.

"Effective Monday, February 12, 2018, our field sales organization will no longer be visiting your offices to engage you in discussions about our opioid products", Kwarcinski said in the letter, which was released to media outlets.

The lawsuits have generally accused Purdue of significantly downplaying the risk of addiction posed by OxyContin and of engaging in misleading marketing that overstated the benefits of opioids for treating chronic, rather than short-term, pain.

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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. More recently, it has positioned itself as an advocate for fighting the opioid addiction crisis as overdoses from prescription drugs claim thousands of American lives each year.

The government pressure on opioid prescribing is having a profound effect.

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.

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

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