Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma will stop promoting opioids to physicians

The maker of the powerful painkiller Oxy Contin said it will stop marketing opioid drugs to doctors a surprise reversal after lawsuits blamed the company for helping trigger the current drug abuse epidemic. Oxy Contin has long been the world's top-selling

It will now have about 200 sales representatives, Purdue said.

Purdue Pharma will no longer target US doctors in its efforts to sell OxyContin, a prescription opioid whose overprescription fueled America's opioid crisis - and made billions for Purdue's founding family. 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. "Millions of Americans are now opioid-addicted because the campaign that Purdue and other opioid manufacturers used to increase prescribing worked well". "Even if we save one life due to this decision, it is worth it". Doctors with questions about opioids will be directed to the company's medical affairs department.

Purdue's sales representatives will now focus on the Symproic drug created to treat opioid-induced constipation, and other non-opioid products. The drug was marketed as a non-addictive treatment for chronic pain. The drugmaker is fighting hundreds of lawsuits accusing it of using deceptive methods to sell the addictive painkiller.

Purdue has been accused of pushing OxyContin through misleading marketing that exaggerates the opioid's pain-relieving benefits while downplaying the risk of addiction. States including Montana, New Jersey, and Alabama, as well as some cities, have sued Purdue, claiming that the opioid epidemic has reduced lifespans and caused massive social and economic damage. Opioids also have been blamed for a resurgence in heroin use.

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Purdue has denied the allegations, stating that its drugs are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and account for only 2 percent of all opioid prescriptions.

"The genie is already out of the bottle", said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University and an advocate for stronger regulation of opioid drug companies.

Opioids are substances that work on the nervous system in the body or specific receptors in the brain to reduce the intensity of pain.

More than 60,000 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S.in 2016, overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids rose to about 20,000 in 2016 compared with 3,105 in 2013, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2007, however, the company agreed to pay $634.5 million (€518 million) after pleading guilty to federal charges related to misleading the public about the risks of OxyContin.

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