The maker of painkiller OxyContin will stop promoting opioid drugs to doctors and will slash its sales force by half, a decision that follows the company receiving a barrage of lawsuits that cite the ongoing opioid epidemic.
Drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma, in a statement released on Saturday, said its remaining 200 sales representatives will no longer visit doctors’ offices to advertise the highly addictive painkillers.
“We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers,” the Connecticut-based company said in a statement obtained by Reuters.
The decision comes after states, cities and counties filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma and other companies, accusing them of fueling the opioid epidemic by favoring profits over human health.
Opioids, including prescription opioids, heroin and fentanyl, killed more than 42,000 people in 2016, the highest death toll ever recorded, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nearly half of those deaths, at around 40 percent, involved a prescription opioid, the CDC said.
OxyContin, Purdue Pharma’s biggest-selling drug, generated the company $1.8 billion in 2017 ― down from $2.8 billion five years earlier, Bloomberg reported citing market researcher Symphony Health Solutions.
Purdue Pharma has defended its business practices, arguing that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its drugs, which account for only 2 percent of all opioid prescriptions.