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OxyContin Maker Cuts Half Of Sales Staff, Stops Promoting Painkillers To Doctors

OxyContin Maker Cuts Half Of Sales Staff, Stops Promoting Painkillers To Doctors

In a surprise move, Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the opiate painkiller OxyContin, has said that it will reduce its direct sales force and stop the direct marketing of opiates to doctors.

Indra Cidambi, medical director at the Center for Network Therapy detox program in New Jersey, said she was encouraged by Purdue's announcement.

"We manufacture prescription opioids", reads one of the ads.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Purdue will continue selling the drug, but will no longer send salespeople to doctors' offices to promote it. Purdue will cut its USA sales staff by more than half. But she warned that tightening the prescription supply already has illegal drug dealers turning out more pills that look like branded prescription meds but can be even more unsafe.

"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. Doctors with questions about opioids will be directed to the company's medical affairs department. It will now have about 200 sales representatives, Purdue said. Symproic is used to treat opioid-related constipation.

OxyContin has always been the world's top-selling opioid painkiller and generated billions in sales for privately-held Purdue.

At least 14 states have sued privately held Purdue. The suits accuse pharmaceutical companies of pushing doctors to sell addictive painkillers. Opioids also have been blamed for a resurgence in heroin use.

US deaths linked to opioids have quadrupled since 2000 to roughly 42,000 in 2016, or about 115 lives lost per day. "How could we not help fight the prescription and illicit opioid abuse crisis?" 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.

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