Purdue Pharma, one of the world’s largest opioid manufacturers, will stop marketing its painkiller OxyContin to doctors in the United States. The announcement came close on the heels of the recent outrage and lawsuits that rapped opioid manufacturing companies—Purdue in particular—for stoking the opioid epidemic in the country. OxyContin is the highest-selling opioid painkiller, which helped Purdue rake in billions. Purdue now sells a newer opioid drug called Hysingla that is known to last longer.
What surprised most was a statement from the company that it had already reduced half of its sales staff last week. Though the remaining workforce of around 200 would continue visiting doctors and pushing for the sale of medicines, their focus would now be on other drugs.
OxyContin (a time-release version of oxycodone) was considered a breakthrough chronic pain treatment from the moment Purdue launched it in 1995. It maintained a steady level of oxycodone in patients troubled by an array of pain-related illnesses for over 12 hours. A few users discovered that it could elicit heroin-like effects when the entire dose was crushed and snorted or injected in one go. Soon, OxyContin became a drug of choice for those who abused prescription opioids. Realizing that the medicine was being abused, Purdue reformulated it and stalled the sale of the original form of the drug in 2010.
Deceptive marketing jeopardized lives, but action lauded
It had been alleged since long that Purdue Pharma indulged in dubious promotional tactics, keeping the public in dark about the safety of OxyContin and underplaying any risks of addiction. The company eventually admitted to their wrong doings after federal investigations revealed their marketing strategies. In 2007, the company, along with three of its executives, pleaded guilty of misleading the public about the risks associated with the use of drug and agreed to pay a fine of more than $600 million. However, even after that OxyContin maintained its sky-high sale, endangering the lives of millions in the country.
In spite of fighting a long-standing legal battle against states blaming Purdue and other opioid manufacturers for fueling the ongoing opioid epidemic in the country, the recent action taken by Purdue has received appreciation. A strong supporter of stringent government regulation of opioid manufacturing companies, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, director of opioid policy research at the Brandeis University, spoke highly of this action. It would set the ball rolling for other companies to follow suit, he said.
Opioids have killed thousands in the U.S. so far. Deaths from opioids have quadrupled in the U.S. since 2000. In 2016, it reached 64,000 deaths — mostly involving illicit drugs, heroin, and fentanyl. This means that America lost about 175 lives every day.
Opioids are mainly used by post-surgical and cancer patients to help them endure severe pain. However, opioid manufacturers projected them as a treatment for chronic pain that led people to abuse them which gradually pushed them toward addiction.
Addiction is a scourge that may prove to be fatal when chronic and severe. If you have a loved one abusing prescription opioids, seek immediate help from a rehab in your vicinity. Also, learn about other ways to deal with chronic pain.
Sovereign Health offers comprehensive chronic pain management program to chronic pain patients in the U.S. Our chronic pain treatment centers are known to regularly treat patients suffering from pain and opioid addiction. Call our 24/7 helpline number or chat online with our experts to know more about pain management and opioid addiction treatment programs.