Drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma has decided to stop encouraging doctors across the country to write prescriptions for its painkiller, OxyContin, drawing positive reactions from opioid experts who continue to say that more work must be done to combat the ongoing drug epidemic.
Purdue announced that it is cutting its sales staff and effective Monday, will stop promoting OxyConton to health care workers, USA Today reports. This comes as the pharmaceutical industry continues to fight multiple lawsuits in different states regarding their role in the country’s nationwide abuse of prescription medications.
Indra Cidambi, medical director at the Center for Network Therapy detox program in New Jersey and authority on opioid abuse, said that this decision by Purdue is encouraging. But she also added that just restricting the supply in prescriptions drugs has already triggered more illegal drug dealers to compensate, churning out pills that look like branded medicines. These fake pills often turn out to be more dangerous and addictive.
Cidambi said, “The decision by a manufacturer to stop pushing opioid pain medications is late, but better late than never. Even if we save one life due to this decision, it is worth it.”
Kevin O’Grady, clinical director for Kansas City-based Midwest Recovery Centers, said the same thing. “This recognition by Purdue is a step in the right direction, however, it only represents a small fraction of the problem. The focus still seems to be trying to stop this epidemic by increasing legal consequences, rather than treating it as an illness.”
Monica Kwarcinski, Purdue’s head of medical affairs, sent a notice to prescribers, describing the company’s efforts in pushing responsible opioid use.
Effective Monday, February 12, 2018, our field sales organization will no longer be visiting your offices to engage you in discussions about our opioid products,
the letter stated. “Requests for information about our opioid products will be handled through direct communication with the highly experienced health care professionals that comprise our Medical Affairs department.”
The company has slashed its sales force by over 50%, with its remaining 200 workers focusing on promoting non-opioids such as Symproic, which is used to treat constipation.