12 February, 2018
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.
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. "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".
The restructuring comes amid lawsuits filed by Ohio, Alabama and Washington attorneys general who allege Purdue has exacerbated the opioid drug addiction crisis through its sale and marketing of OxyContin.
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Purdue first introduced Oxycontin in 1985. 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. Purdue sold the drug by trying to convince Doctors that previous concerns regarding opioid addiction and abuse had been overdone and resulted in patient pain and discomfort that could have been effectively treated. The remaining 200 sales positions will focus their efforts on the drugmaker's non-opioid products. "Millions of Americans are now opioid-addicted because the campaign that Purdue and other opioid manufacturers used to increase prescribing worked well".
At least 14 states have sued privately-held Purdue.
More than 60,000 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S.in 2016, overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids rose to about 20,000 in 2016 compared with 3,105 in 2013, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 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.