Purdue Pharma, producer of OxyContin, stops promoting opioids to physicians

Purdue Pharma, best known for making and selling OxyContin, announced Feb. 10 that it will stop marketing opioid drugs to physicians. The company also stated it will lay off half of its sales force, with the remaining staff of 200 focusing on other medications.

 Purdue, based in Stamford, Connecticut, has drawn criticism for its role in the current opioid crisis, particularly for its aggressive marketing campaigns for OxyContin after its development in 1995. Purdue generated $1.94 billion in Oxycontin totaled $1.94 billion in sales last year, according to Symphony Health Solutions—approximately $1 billion less than its high in 2013.

"We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers," Purdue said in a statement.

The drug-maker, though, has been hit with a number of lawsuits, including a 2017 suit filed by the attorney general of Washington state and one from last week from Alabama.

Monica Kwarcinski, PharmD, Purdue's head of medical affairs, described the company’s efforts to support responsible opioid use in a letter to prescribers.

"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. "Requests for information about our opioid products will be handled through direct communication with the highly experienced health care professionals that comprise our medical affairs department."

For more Health Exec coverage of opioids in the U.S., visit here, here and here.