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

Phillip Cunningham
February 12, 2018

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. Purdue Pharma is the first major opioid drug maker to end the practice of marketing painkillers to medical professionals, reports Bloomberg.

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.

"We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers", the company said in a statement. The company will still handle requests from doctors who have questions about drugs such as OxyContin, through its medical affairs department.

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 push their product.

Its sales representatives will now focus on Symproic, a drug for treating opioid-induced constipation, and other potential non-opioid products, Purdue said.


At least 14 states have sued privately held Purdue. Users soon learned that they could bypass its time-release function by crushing the pills and snorting or injecting them.

In 2010 Purdue reformulated OxyContin to make it harder to crush and stopped selling the original form of the drug.

"Overall, the impact will be small because the genie is out of the bottle", he said of the opioid manufacturer's decision. After federal investigations, the company and three executives pleaded guilty in 2007 and agreed to pay more than $600 million for misleading the public about the risks of OxyContin. "But if other opioid manufacturers would do the same, it would have a bigger effect". The drug was marketed as a non-addictive treatment for chronic pain.

Purdue eventually acknowledged that its promotions exaggerated the drug's safety and minimized the risks of addiction. Although initially driven by prescription drugs, most opioid deaths now involve illicit drugs, including heroin and fentanyl. The institute also found that the United States is the biggest consumer of hydrocodone in the world, taking in nearly 100 percent of the world's doses.

Purdue and other opioid drugmakers and pharmaceutical distributors continue defending themselves against hundreds of local and state lawsuits seeking to hold the industry accountable for the drug overdose epidemic.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER