Purdue announces it will halt OxyContin marketing to doctors in response to opioid epidemic

by John Chapman

Purdue Pharma – the manufacturer of the powerful opioid painkiller OxyContin – has announced that it will stop promoting its opioid products to physicians in the U.S. Purdue’s aggressive marketing of OxyContin and other opioid painkillers to doctors is considered to have played a key role in the growth of the nationwide opioid epidemic in the U.S.

For years, Purdue’s marketing materials claimed that only about 1 percent of OxyContin users became addicted to these drugs. In 2001, the company updated its marketing materials to more accurately reflect the addiction risk associated with OxyContin. In 2007, Purdue was forced to pay $600 million in damages over allegations that the company had lied about the addictive properties of OxyContin. Three Purdue executives also pled guilty to lying about the addiction risks associated with the drug.

Since then, Purdue has faced hundreds of lawsuits over allegations that the company misled doctors about the addiction risk of OxyContin. State and local governments across the country have filed lawsuits against Purdue over the company’s aggressive marketing of OxyContin. Lawsuits have also been filed on behalf of OxyContin users who suffered addiction, dependency, or overdoses caused by the drug.

As a result of Purdue’s aggressive marketing of OxyContin to doctors, the number of opioid overdoses caused by this drug climbed sharply over the last two decades. In 1999, opioid painkillers were responsible for about 4,000 overdose deaths in the U.S.; by 2016, that number had climbed to 32,000 deaths – an increase of more than 700% in less than 20 years.

Health experts say that although Purdue’s move to suspend its opioid marketing to physicians is a welcome step, the move will likely have little effect on the U.S. opioid crisis. In the years since Purdue began aggressively marketing OxyContin to doctors, other powerful opioids – including hydrocodone, fentanyl, hydromorphone, and methadone – have been used by millions of opioid patients.

Furthermore, the company’s decision comes at a time when sales of OxyContin were declining, thanks in part to generic competition with the drug. Experts have also called on the FDA to ban OxyContin and other high-dose opioid painkillers, saying that the risk of addiction and overdose associated with these medications is too high compared to safer alternative therapies.

Some health insiders have also questioned Purdue’s motives in ending its physician marketing program for OxyContin. Experts say that although Purdue now claims that it wants to be a part of the answer to the opioid epidemic, the company has shifted its marketing of OxyContin and other opioids from doctors to health insurance companies.

Opioid Painkiller Lawsuits Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have filed hundreds of lawsuits on behalf of patients who have been harmed by opioid painkillers or other dangerous prescription drugs. If you or your family have lost a loved one to an opioid overdose, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer, or the doctor or medical facility that prescribed the drug.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson has filed dozens of lawsuits on behalf of victims of opioid overdoses, and have handled more lawsuits involving the powerful opioid medications fentanyl than all other law firms in the country combined. Our law firm is committed to helping families who have been harmed by the aggressive marketing of opioids by the pharmaceutical industry and the indiscriminate prescribing practices of many doctors with these drugs. Our attorneys have the experience, expertise, and resources to take on any cases involving opioid overdoses or other pharmaceutical liability matters.

For more information about the lawsuits involving opioid painkillers filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson and to find out whether you may qualify to file a case, contact our attorneys by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few short questions to get started.