Purdue Pharma, maker of the powerful opioid painkiller OxyContin, under growing pressure and lawsuits from groups blaming the company for fueling the country’s opioid epidemic, will stop promoting its opioids to doctors. From now on, questions and requests for information about Purdue’s opioid products will be handled through direct communications with its medical affairs department, the company said in a statement.
“We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting our opioids to prescribers,” the statement said.
Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma whittled its sales force in half. Only 200 sales representatives remain in the U.S., and they will no longer visit doctors’ officers to discuss its opioid medications.
Purdue is facing dozens of lawsuits from cities, counties and states accusing the company of propelling the opioid crisis resulting in unnecessary deaths as well as millions of dollars in economic damages. Last week, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on behalf of the State of Alabama joined the litigation.
“Alabama’s opioid crisis has been, and is still being, fueled by pharmaceutical manufacturer Purdue, which has deceptively and illegally marketed opioids in order to generate billions of dollars in sales,” said Beasley Allen lawyer Rhon E. Jones, head of the firm’s Toxic Torts Section and acting Deputy General in this case. “Purdue primarily manufacturers and sells opioids, and is misrepresenting the risks of these highly addictive painkillers, plainly putting profits over people. The rampant use and abuse of opioids is devastating to both the citizens of and the State of Alabama.”
Purdue makes several brand-name and generic opioids, but its potent painkiller OxyContin makes up about 30 percent of the entire market of opioids. The drugs are marketed for chronic non-cancer pain.