Manufacturer of OxyContin Will Stop Promoting Opioid Drugs to Doctors Following Lawsuits, Backlash

The manufacturer of the powerful painkiller OxyContin announced this week that it will stop promoting its opioid drugs to doctors after years of criticism and mounting lawsuits.

Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma informed its employees that it was cutting its sales force in half, leaving about 200 representatives in the U.S., who no longer will visit doctors’ offices to discuss the company’s opioid products.

The prescription medicine OxyContin is displayed Aug. 21, 2001, at a Walgreens drugstore in Brookline, Mass. The powerful painkiller, manufactured to relieve the pain of seriously ill people, is being used by some to achieve a high similar to a heroin rush. (Credit: Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

The prescription medicine OxyContin is displayed Aug. 21, 2001, at a Walgreens drugstore in Brookline, Mass. The powerful painkiller, manufactured to relieve the pain of seriously ill people, is being used by some to achieve a high similar to a heroin rush. (Credit: Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

“We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers,” the company said in a statement. “Going forward, questions and requests for information about our opioid products will be handled through direct communications with … our medical affairs department.”

The company is facing dozens of lawsuits from cities across the country that were prompted by a Times investigation last year that revealed Purdue had extensive evidence pointing to illegal trafficking of its pills but in many cases did not share it with local law enforcement agencies or cut off the flow of the drugs. The plaintiffs are seeking to hold the company financially responsible for a raging opioid epidemic.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.