Purdue Pharma Backing Off From Opioids
Every now and then, an addiction story actually makes the front page of the major news sites. And that certainly was the case this week, after pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma announced that it will no longer be promoting its OxyContin product to doctors across the U.S.
Purdue has been the recipient of a wide array of criticism since the opioid epidemic began taking shape earlier this decade. Even the federal government lashed out at the billion dollar company for “aggressively marketing” its addictive products to the medical community. Now, with the crisis in full effect, Purdue is finally backing off, telling CNN that it will be cutting its sales force in half and turning its focus to marketing non-opioid drugs.
The company did reveal that it will continue sell OxyContin, however, but not with the same aggressive promotion tactics as before. For better or worse, we certainly feel this is a step in the right direction and a move that could make at least somewhat of a dent in the crisis.
For the record, OxyContin has gotten a lot of the credit for the start of America’s opioid epidemic. Highly prescribed for pain, it has been the subject of multiple lawsuits and linked to thousands of overdose deaths. Purdue, themselves, are facing legal action across 400 cities due to issues with Oxy and their other related products.
Their latest response comes via a written statement. Sites like The Verge published Purdue’s official stance, which many feel is still somewhat insincere. “We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation,” their statement reads. “From now on, we will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers.” As a follow up, the company has now laid off more than 50 percent of its sales force.
Opponents have strongly criticized the move as “too little, too late,” emphasizing that the reduction is more motivated by finances than by the greater good. With huge lawsuits pending and the rise in competitive, generic painkiller prescriptions; many feel that Purdue needs to do more.
“The genie is out of the bottle,” Co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative at Brandeis University, Andrew Kolodny, told CBS News. “I don’t think that this is coming out of good intentions. I think sales for their products have already been declining. These guys and others created this huge opioid epidemic in our country, and they need to clean up the mess.”