OxyContin maker Purdue will no longer market opioid drugs to doctors

Purdue Pharma, the drug company behind Oxycontin, said on Saturday that it will stop promoting opioids to physicians and has, in fact, halved its sales force.

OxyContin has always been the world's top-selling opioid painkiller, bringing in billions in sales for the privately-held company.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Purdue will continue selling the drug, but will no longer send salespeople to doctors' offices to promote it. Purdue will cut its USA sales staff by more than half.

Its remaining sales staff of about 200 will focus on other medications.

Lawsuits have accused Purdue Pharma of being a prime contributor to the current opioid epidemic in the United States through the aggressive marketing of OxyContin.

Purdue's head of medical affairs, Monica Kwarcinski, sent a letter to prescribers updating the company's efforts to support responsible opioid use. Symproic is used to treat opioid-related constipation.

Alabama last Tuesday became the latest state to file a lawsuit accusing the private CT company of fueling the US epidemic by misrepresenting the risks and benefits of opioids.

On its website, Purdue-which is a privately held company-is positioning itself as still wanting to be a player in pain management going forward.

Codeine drugs may soon only be available by prescription.

Purdue said in a statement that it "vigorously denies" allegations of misconduct, adding that its products account for only "approximately 2%" of all opioid prescriptions. "We are committed to being part of the solution by partnering with local law enforcement, state and local government agencies, and community groups across the country".

Opioids are substances that work on the nervous system in the body or specific receptors in the brain to reduce the intensity of pain.

Although initially driven by prescription drugs, most opioid deaths now involve illicit drugs, including heroin and fentanyl. It later acknowledged that its promotions exaggerated the safety of the drug and minimized its risk for addiction.