OxyContin maker stops marketing to doctors; DeWine: ‘Too little, too late’

2:57 p.m Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018 Ohio

Ohio Attorney Gen. Mike DeWine called OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma’s announcement it no longer will market opioids to doctors “too little, too late.”

The maker of the world’s top-selling powerful painkiller on Saturday said it cut more than half its sales staff and that representatives would no longer discuss opioid drugs when making sales calls to physician offices.

>> OxyContin maker will stop promoting opioids to doctors

“Purdue Pharma’s announcement that they will no longer send out sales reps to promote OxyContin to doctors is a victory for everyone. But, it’s too little, too late. It is a decision that should have been made years ago and should be now made by all other makers of opioid pain medications,” DeWine said in a release issued Sunday.

“Purdue Pharma and other makers of opioid pain medications fundamentally changed the prescribing culture of doctors in this country, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in economic costs. They have an obligation to now re-educate the American public and the medical community about the real dangers of these drugs. And, while we are happy they are stopping the lies, it is simply not enough to stop what they were doing. Purdue Pharma needs to actively work to undo the damage they have done.

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“If they are truly serious about this, they could lead the way in cleaning up the mess they created and pay their fair share to fund desperately needed treatment, prevention education, naloxone (overdose reversal medication) and expansion of the foster care system,” he said.

Purdue and other opioid drugmakers and pharmaceutical distributors continue to defend themselves against hundreds of local and state lawsuits seeking to hold the industry accountable for the drug overdose epidemic. The lawsuits say drugmakers misled doctors and patients about the risks of opioids by enlisting “front groups” and “key opinion leaders” who oversold the drugs’ benefits and encouraged overprescribing, the Associated Press reported.