OxyContin maker will stop promoting opioids to doctors

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. Purdue Pharma has total revenue of about $3 billion, with perhaps a third of the total coming from painkiller OxyContin.

The US drugmaker said it will inform doctors on Monday that its sales representatives will no longer be visiting doctors' offices to discuss its opioid products. "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".

Lawsuits have accused Purdue Pharma of being a prime contributor to the current opioid epidemic in the United States through the aggressive marketing of OxyContin.

Purdue, a privately held company based in Stamford, Conn., has been slammed with lawsuits claiming the company has downplayed OxyContin's addiction risk.

Purdue's sales representatives will now focus on the Symproic drug created to treat opioid-induced constipation, and other non-opioid products. It was an extended release version of the opiate Oxycodone, which had been used to treat pain since 1916. As the country continues to battle with an opioid epidemic, one of the largest producers of prescription opioids has made an important marketing decision that may potentially impact the war on addictive drugs. Purdue also sells the painkiller Hysingla.

Purdue said in a statement that it "vigorously denies" allegations of misconduct, adding that its products account for only "approximately 2%" of all opioid prescriptions.

Opioids, though, were involved in more than 42,000 overdose deaths in 2016, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the most recent figures suggest that 145 Americans now die every day from overdoses. OxyContin is the nation's top-selling opioid painkiller. Purdue officials confirmed in November that they were in settlement talks with a group of state attorneys general and trying to come up with a global resolution of the government opioid claims.

  • Santos West