(Reuters) – OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP mentioned on Saturday that it has lower its sales pressure in half and can cease promoting opioids to physicians, following widespread criticism of the ways in which drugmakers market addictive painkillers.
The drugmaker mentioned it’ll inform docs on Monday that its sales representatives will not go to doctor workplaces to debate its opioid merchandise. It will now have about 200 sales representatives, Purdue mentioned.
“We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers,” the Stamford, Connecticut-based firm mentioned in an announcement.
Doctors with opioid-related questions can be directed to its medical affairs division. Its sales representatives will now give attention to Symproic, a drug for treating opioid-induced constipation, and different potential non-opioid merchandise, Purdue mentioned.
Opioids had been concerned in additional than 42,000 overdose deaths in 2016, in line with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Among different opioid producers, Endo International Plc (ENDP.O) agreed in July to tug its Opana ER painkiller after the Food and Drug Administration known as for its withdrawal.
Purdue and different drugmakers have been combating lawsuits by states, counties and cities which have accused them of pushing addictive painkillers by misleading advertising.
The lawsuits have typically accused Purdue of downplaying OxyContin’s dependancy threat and of deceptive advertising that overstated the advantages of opioids for treating continual, relatively than short-term, ache.
At least 14 states have sued privately held Purdue. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall filed a lawsuit on Tuesday accusing Purdue of deceptively advertising prescription opioids.
Purdue can also be going through a federal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut.
Purdue has denied the allegations within the numerous lawsuits. It has mentioned its medicine are authorised by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and account for under 2 p.c of all opioid prescriptions.
Purdue and three executives pleaded responsible in 2007 to federal expenses associated to the misbranding of OxyContin and agreed to pay $634.5 million to resolve a U.S. Justice Department probe.
That yr, Purdue additionally reached a $19.5-million settlement with 26 states and the District of Columbia. It agreed in 2015 to pay $24 million to resolve a lawsuit by Kentucky.
U.S. President Donald Trump has drawn criticism for his response to the opioid disaster. He has but to declare it a nationwide emergency as he pledged to do in August following a advice by a presidential fee.
Reporting by Jim Finkle in Toronto, Nate Raymond in Boston and Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Nick Zieminski