By Ed Coghlan.
The government pressure on opioid prescribing is having a profound effect.
Now comes word that Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the opioid painkiller OxyContin, is no longer actively marketing opioid products.
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 promote their product. Instead, the company said it will direct prescribers to materials published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the office of the U.S. surgeon general.
“We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers,” Purdue said in a statement.
On its website, Purdue—which is a privately held company—is positioning itself as still wanting to be a player in pain management going forward.
“Solving the crisis will take a broad set of stakeholders all doing their part to make a difference, Purdue included. We were the first company to introduce an opioid pain medication with abuse-deterrent properties and labeling claims, and we are investing in research to develop non-opioid pain medications. We are committed to being part of the solution by partnering with local law enforcement, state and local government agencies, and community groups across the country.”
Purdue has come under fire in recent years for the way it promoted its products to physicians—particularly family practice doctors. Sales of OxyContin and other opioids have fallen recently amid pressure from regulators, insurers, and the general public.
The company has been taking out full page ads in major newspapers.
“We manufacture prescription opioids,” reads one of the ads. “How could we not help fight the prescription and illicit opioid abuse crisis?”
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.