Opioid Maker Says It Won't Market In Doctors' Offices Anymore

Oxycontin bottle on pharmacy shelf

Oxycontin bottle on pharmacy shelf

Purdue Pharma, the company best known for selling the prescription painkiller OxyContin, announced on Saturday that they would stop marketing opioid drugs to doctors.

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.

"It is hard to promote more cautious prescribing to the medical community because opioid manufacturers promote opioid use", Dr. Kolodny said. Users soon learned that they could bypass its time-release function by crushing the pills and snorting or injecting them.

Andrew Kolodny, from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management's Opioid Policy Research, said that the impact of Purdue's decision is small but there could be a bigger effect if other opioid makers will stop the aggressive marketing of their products.

Because of Oxycontin's rising cost, many people who developed an addiction to the opioid subsequently turned to heroin, contributing to the ongoing drug epidemic.

The company and three executives pleaded guilty in 2007 for misleading the public about the risks of the drug but Oxycontin continued to generate blockbuster sales. It later acknowledged that its promotions exaggerated the safety of the drug and minimized its risk for addiction. 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. Another drugmaker, Insys, said it was not able to comment immediately, while Teva Pharmaceutical Industries did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But he said the companies have promoted them as a treatment for chronic pain, where they are more harmful and less helpful, because it's more profitable.

"They are still doing this overseas", Kolodny said of their worldwide arm Mundipharma. The institute also found that the United States is the biggest consumer of hydrocodone in the world, taking in nearly 100 percent of the world's doses. It said those companies have separate leadership and operate according to local regulations.

About 115 people die in the United States every day from an opioid overdose.

"We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers", representatives of Purdue Pharma said in a statement to Bloomberg Friday evening.

Dr. Kolodny is serving as an expert advising the court in those lawsuits.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 people who received prescriptions to drugs like Oxycontin now struggle with an opioid addiction.

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