Purdue Pharma has announced they will stop aggressively promoting opioid painkillers to doctors, and will cut 50% of their sales team.
Oxycontin, which generated $1.8B for Purdue in 2017, has long been the pain-pill giant’s premiere product — and while sales have gone down by $1B over the last five years, the damage has already been done.
Purdue has slung OxyContin on doctors since it was approved in ‘95, and has pulled out all the stops to promote it in marketing campaigns.
Of course, there was the swag — OxyContin fishing hats, stuffed plush toys, and OxyContin music (a CD with the song “Get in the Swing With OxyContin” on it).
Then, there were the blatant lies, a la ‘98, when they made a promotional video claiming OxyContin poses less of an addiction risk than other opioids.
Yeah, that’s not even remotely true…
So untrue, in fact, that in 2007, Purdue was ordered to pay over $600m in fines after pleading guilty of misrepresenting OxyContin and intentionally misleading consumers and doctors.
Since then, Purdue has grown accustomed to lawsuits and has shelled out millions in multi-state settlements — including an allegation that the company sold 1m Oxy pills to a black market drug ring in Washington.
Gotta rehab that image
As Purdue works with state attorneys general to settle numerous ongoing lawsuits, they’re now looking to “clean up” their rep by launching ad campaigns promoting their efforts to address the opioid crisis they helped create.
According to Bloomberg, their 200 remaining salespeople will focus on selling the company’s drug for opioid-triggered constipation, Symproic.
Meanwhile, the drugs continue to ravage America: in 2016, about of the drug-related overdoses came from opioids across the US — a 5x increase since 2013.
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