OxyContin maker to stop promoting opioids

Whose Fault Is the Opioid Crisis?

Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the powerful painkiller OxyContin, said on Saturday it will stop marketing opioid drugs to physicians following a slew of lawsuits against the company over the opioid epidemic, The Hill reports.

OxyContin has always been the world's top-selling opioid painkiller, bringing in billions in sales for privately-held Purdue, which also sells a newer and longer-lasting opioid drug called Hysingla. When regulators and lawmakers finally cracked down on growing prescription drug abuse, millions already addicted began turning to cheaper heroin. "But if other opioid manufacturers would do the same, it would have a bigger effect". "Even if we save one life due to this decision, it is worth it".

The company's statement said it eliminated more than half its sales staff this week and will no longer send sales representatives to doctors' offices to discuss opioid drugs.

The company plans to run all questions about its highly profitable drug Oxycontin - which the American Addiction Centers said has a strong "potential for addiction and subsequent withdrawal symptoms" - through its medical affairs department.

"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 wrote in a letter to prescribers. Symproic is used to treat opioid-related constipation. According to new details released in a 2017 Washington state lawsuit, Purdue's sales staff collected data to find the highest prescribers it could and then aggressively market its drugs to those individuals. In 2010 Purdue reformulated OxyContin to make it harder to crush and stopped selling the original form of the drug.

At least 14 states have sued Purdue.

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The lawsuits say Purdue misled prescribers and the public by marketing opioids as a safe substitute for non-addictive pain medications such as ibuprofen and contributed to an increase in heroin use.

The government claims the results have been tragic - and left government agencies with millions in social and health care costs. It has said its drugs are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and account for only 2 percent of all opioid prescriptions.

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

US deaths linked to opioids have quadrupled since 2000 to roughly 42,000 in 2016, or about 115 lives lost per day.

Purdue and three executives pleaded guilty in 2007 to federal charges related to the misbranding of OxyContin and agreed to pay $634.5 million to resolve a U.S. Justice Department probe.

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