OxyContin maker cuts sales staff, won't hawk drug to docs

OxyContin maker will stop marketing opioid products to doctors amid scrutiny

Purdue Pharma, makers of the prescription drug OxyContin, announced it is decreasing its sales staff and will no longer market opioid drugs to doctors. Purdue Pharma has total revenue of about $3 billion, with perhaps a third of the total coming from painkiller OxyContin.

The company said it is reducing its sales staff by more than half, and that its remaining salespeople will no longer visit doctor's offices to push their product.

Doctors who want information on opioids will now need to contact the company's medical affairs department. The company continues to be the largest seller of prescription painkillers in the United States, and also has a prescription sleep aid line of drugs and over-counter-products. "Millions of Americans are now opioid-addicted because the campaign that Purdue and other opioid manufacturers used to increase prescribing worked well".

Purdue and other opioid makers and distributors face dozens of lawsuits - including from New Hampshire and the cities of Manchester and Nashua - in which they're accused of creating a public health crisis through their marketing of the painkillers.

Alabama last Tuesday became the latest state to file a lawsuit accusing the private CT company of fueling the US epidemic by misrepresenting the risks and benefits of opioids. 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.

Purdue "vigorously denies" any misconduct, saying it has consistently followed the CDC's opioid guidelines including not recommending opioids as a first option.

OxyContin, approved in 1995, is the closely held company's biggest-selling drug, though sales of the pain pill have declined in recent years with competition from generics.

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

Eventually, Purdue acknowledged that its promotions exaggerated the drug's safety and minimized the risks of addiction.

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