Purdue, which has reportedly generated approximately $35 billion dollars in revenue, in a statement said it had "restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers". The remaining 200 sales reps will focus on non-opioid drugs such as Symproic, the company said.
Purdue Pharma, makers of the prescription drug OxyContin, announced it is decreasing its sales staff and will no longer market opioid drugs to doctors. Purdue Pharma's medical affairs team will now field any questions regarding pain medications from doctors.
"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.
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.
Among other opioid producers, Endo International Plc agreed in July to pull its Opana ER painkiller after the Food and Drug Administration called for its withdrawal.
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"We manufacture prescription opioids", reads one of the ads.
Purdue's sales representatives will now focus on the Symproic drug created to treat opioid-induced constipation, and other non-opioid products.
The company in 2007 paid out $600 million to settle civil and criminal charges related to the drug's marketing, with three company executives agreeing to pay an additional $34.5 million. Opioid litigation increased sharply in 2017 when hundreds of cities, counties and states sued opioid makers, wholesalers, distributors and marketers.
Purdue is also facing a federal investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office in CT. Costs of opioid addiction to the US economy have been estimated to be as high as $78.5 billion.