OxyContin maker to cut back marketing

OxyContin maker will stop marketing opioid products to doctors amid scrutiny

OxyContin maker will stop marketing opioid products to doctors amid scrutiny

Privately held drug company Purdue Pharma LP said it would stop promoting OxyContin and other opioids to doctors, 22 years after the painkiller linked to widespread addiction hit the US market.

"Effective Monday, February 12, 2018, our field sales organization will no longer be visiting your offices to engage you in discussions about our opioid products", she said. Instead, any questions doctors have will be directed to the Stamford, Conn. -based company's medical affairs department.

Purdue and other opioid makers and distributors face dozens of lawsuits in which they're accused of creating a public health crisis through their marketing of the painkillers. The move reduces the sales staff to 200 employees.

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.

At least 14 states have sued privately held Purdue.

Among other opioid producers, Endo International Plc (ENDP.O) agreed in July to pull its Opana ER painkiller after the Food and Drug Administration called for its withdrawal.

The lawsuits have generally accused Purdue of significantly downplaying the risk of addiction posed by OxyContin and of engaging in misleading marketing that overstated the benefits of opioids for treating chronic, rather than short-term, pain.

Purdue is also facing a federal investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office in CT. The company in 2007 paid out $600 million to settle civil and criminal charges related to the drug's marketing, with three company executives agreeing to pay an additional $34.5 million.

Purdue Pharma denies allegations of complicity in the opioid epidemic and says it is committed to curbing rates of opioid abuse. It agreed in 2015 to pay $24 million to resolve a lawsuit by Kentucky.

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