Purdue Pharma will no longer target USA 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, which has reportedly generated approximately $35 billion dollars in revenue, in a statement said it had "restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers".
About 200 remaining Purdue salespeople will focus on promoting the company's drug to treat opioid-induced constipation, Symproic.
Amid the opioid epidemic, Purdue and other drugmakers have been fighting a wave of lawsuits by states, counties and cities that have accused them of pushing addictive painkillers through deceptive marketing.
Up to one in four people who received prescriptions for opioid drugs such as OxyContin struggle with opioid addiction, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Purdue's head of medical affairs, Monica Kwarcinski, sent a letter to prescribers updating the company's efforts to support responsible opioid use. Purdue Pharma is the first major opioid drug maker to end the practice of marketing painkillers to medical professionals, reports Bloomberg. 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.
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 FDA approved OxyContin in 1995, and the drug was hailed as a medical breakthrough because of its ability to help patients suffering from moderate to severe pain. Users, however, later learned that they could be heroin-like high from the drug by crushing the pills or by injecting or snorting them.
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.