OxyContin maker to stop promoting opioids

OxyContin maker will stop marketing opioid products to doctors amid scrutiny

Andrew Kolodny, from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management's Opioid Policy Research, said that the impact of Purdue's decision is small but there could be a bigger effect if other opioid makers will stop the aggressive marketing of their products.

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. "Millions of Americans are now opioid-addicted because the campaign that Purdue and other opioid manufacturers used to increase prescribing worked well". "Even if we save one life due to this decision, it is worth it".

The opioid crisis has raised significant concern about prescription painkillers.

"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.

Purdue said in a statement that it is reducing its sales force by more than 50%. "Requests for information about our opioid products will be handled through direct communication with the highly experienced health care professionals that comprise our Medical Affairs department".

Purdue and other opioid drugmakers and pharmaceutical distributors continue defending themselves against hundreds of local and state lawsuits seeking to hold the industry accountable for the drug overdose epidemic.

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Sales of OxyContin, which is a long-acting version of the drug oxycodone that was created to deliver medicine over 12 hours, grew rapidly after it hit the market in 1996.

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.

OxyContin has always been the world's top-selling opioid painkiller, bringing in billions in sales for the privately-held company. Opioids also have been blamed for a resurgence in heroin use.

Opioids are substances that work on the nervous system in the body or specific receptors in the brain to reduce the intensity of pain.

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.

Purdue first introduced Oxycontin in 1985.

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