Purdue cuts half of sales force, ends direct opioid marketing to prescribers: 4 things to know

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Stamford, Conn.-based Purdue Pharmaceuticals cut its sales force by more than half and will no longer send salespeople to physician's offices to promote opioid products, effective Monday.

Here are four things to know.

1. Instead of marketing its opioid products directly to clinicians, Purdue will now guide prescribers to published materials from the CDC and U.S. surgeon general. The company plans to send a letter to physicians Monday notifying them of the change in marketing strategy.

"We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers," Purdue said in a statement emailed to Becker's.

2. The drugmaker first informed its employees of job cuts last week, according to a report from Bloomberg Markets. The cuts bring Purdue's sales force down to about 200 employees who will focus on promoting Symproic, a treatment for opioid-induced constipation, and other potential nonopioid therapie

3. The move comes amid a nationwide flurry of lawsuits filed on behalf of local, city and state governments against Purdue and other drug companies for allegedly engaging in deceptive marketing techniques that misrepresented the safety of opioid pain medication.

4. Purdue is widely credited with helping to pioneer modern tactics of drug promotion. The drugmaker's efforts to promote its best-selling drug OxyContin, approved in 1995, included delivering items like OxyContin-branded plush toys, CDs and fishing hats to prescribers. In 2007, the company and three of its executives pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to the misrepresentation of OxyContin's addiction risks. The drugmaker paid out $600 million that year to settle criminal and civil charges related to the drug's misbranding, according to STAT.

More articles on opioids: 
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New York county sees 112 heroin overdoses in 6 weeks


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