OxyContin maker to cut back marketing

Oxycontin bottle on pharmacy shelf

Opioid epidemic demands bold action Oxycontin bottle on pharmacy shelf

"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", Kwarcinski wrote in a letter to prescribers.

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".

Dozens of lawsuits across the country allege Purdue Pharma launched a fraudulent marketing scheme to boost sales of OxyContin in the late 1990s that downplayed the risks for addiction from pain medication.

Purdue's head of medical affairs, Monica Kwarcinski, said the company also plans to run all questions through its medical affairs department as part of its efforts to support "responsible" opioid use. But some users quickly discovered they could get a heroin-like high by crushing the pills and snorting or injecting the entire dose at once.

Manufacturer Purdue bowed to a key demand of lawsuits that blame the Connecticut-based company for helping trigger the opioid epidemic. More recently, it has positioned itself as an advocate for fighting the opioid addiction crisis as overdoses from prescription drugs claim thousands of American lives each year. The drug was marketed as a non-addictive treatment for chronic pain.

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"Overall, the impact will be small because the genie is out of the bottle", Kolodny said. Another drugmaker, Insys, said it was not able to comment immediately, while Teva Pharmaceutical Industries did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company told employees this past week that it would cut its sales force by more than half, to 200.

"They are still doing this overseas", Kolodny added.

The prescription pill is the world's top-selling opioid painkiller and has raked in billions for Purdue since it was introduced in 1996. Officials in Tennessee, which filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma Sept. 29, claim the company's tactics served as a model for other major drug makers to do the same thing. "They are following the same playbook that they used in the United States". Most of those lawsuits have been consolidated in U.S. District Court, under Judge Dan Polster.

Opioids killed more than 42,000 people in 2016 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 40 percent of those deaths involved a prescription opioid. Although initially driven by prescription drugs, most opioid deaths now involve illicit drugs, including heroin and fentanyl.

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