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12 February 2018, 12:42 | Darrell Baldwin
Report: OxyContin Maker to Stop Marketing Opioid Products to Physicians
Purdue Pharma will no longer target USA doctors in its efforts to sell OxyContin, a prescription opioid whose overprescription fueled America's opioid crisis - and made billions for Purdue's founding family.
OxyContin has always been the world's top-selling opioid painkiller, bringing in billions in sales for the privately-held company.
The US drugmaker said it will inform doctors on Monday that its sales representatives will no longer be visiting doctors' offices to discuss its opioid products. Purdue Pharma's medical affairs team will now field any questions regarding pain medications from 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. The company was found to have overstated how long the effects of the medication lasted and severely downplayed the addiction risks of the drug.
The pill, a time-release version of oxycodone, was hailed as a breakthrough treatment for chronic pain when it was approved in late 1995.
Medical professionals say a shift in the 1990s to "institutionalize" pain management opened the doors for pharmaceutical companies to encourage the mass prescribing of painkillers by doctors, and Purdue Pharma led that effort.
Purdue said in a statement that it "vigorously denies" allegations of misconduct, adding that its products account for only "approximately 2%" of all opioid prescriptions. Opioid litigation increased sharply in 2017 when hundreds of cities, counties and states sued opioid makers, wholesalers, distributors and marketers.
The health insurer Cigna also announced in October it would no longer cover OxyContin through employer-based plans, shortly after the pharmaceutical industry lobby group PhRMA broadly endorsed policies that limit opioid prescriptions to seven days.
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