OxyContin maker to stop promoting opioids

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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".

Purdue's head of medical affairs, Monica Kwarcinski, sent a letter to prescribers updating the company's efforts to support responsible opioid use.

Andrew Kolodny, director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University in MA, told the Associated Press that although Purdue's decision to stop marketing the drug is helpful, it won't make a major difference unless other opioid drug companies follow suit.

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.

OxyContin has always been the world's top-selling opioid painkiller, bringing in billions in sales for the privately-held company. It will now have about 200 sales representatives, Purdue said. Symproic is used to treat opioid-related constipation.

Purdue Pharma denies allegations of complicity in the opioid epidemic and says it is committed to curbing rates of opioid abuse. The lawsuits say drugmakers misled doctors and patients about the risks of opioids by enlisting "front groups" and "key opinion leaders" who oversold the drugs' benefits and encouraged overprescribing. The suits accuse pharmaceutical companies of pushing doctors to sell addictive painkillers.

Purdue has been sued by many state attorneys general as part of the battle against opioids that has accelerated in the last two years since the DEA and CDC have ratcheted up regulatory pressure on the prescription and supply of opioids. Opioids also have been blamed for a resurgence in heroin use.

Opioids are substances that work on the nervous system in the body or specific receptors in the brain to reduce the intensity of pain.

In 2007, Purdue Pharma and three of its executives pleaded guilty to criminal charges of misrepresenting their product's addictiveness, and paid a total of $635 million in fines.

Opioids, though, were involved in more than 42,000 overdose deaths in 2016, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the most recent figures suggest that 145 Americans now die every day from overdoses.



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