The makers of Oyxcontin will no longer promote opioid drugs. Purdue Pharma, which makes a variety of pain medications, announced on February 10, what it would no longer promote opioids to physicians, and that it has laid off more than 50% of its sales force.
Purdue began aggressively marketing Oxycontin in 1996, as a pain-management drug that was better, longer lasting, and less prone to abuse than other drugs. As a result, the drug was widely prescribed, leading to many people’s addiction. Some turned to cheaper drugs like heroin to get their fix, which has led to a dramatic increase in overdose deaths.
In an attempt to address the crisis, the DEA reduced the number of opioid drugs that could be manufactured in the U.S. by 25% in 2016 — and the CDC issued new prescribing guidelines. Alabama even filed a lawsuit against Purdue, claiming the company is fueling the opioid epidemic, by deceptively marketing prescription painkillers.
The CDC logged 42,249 opioid-related deaths in 2016 and says that today, 40% of opioid deaths involve prescription opioids. So, while this move might put a dent in future overdoses, it’s too little too late for many. Hopefully more actions, like the ones Purdue is taking, will put a dent in the crisis.