Opioid Maker Ends Opioid Promos to Doctors, But More Actions Needed
By Dean I. Weitzman, Esq. on February 16th, 2018
Purdue Pharma, the maker of the powerful and addictive painkiller OxyContin, announced Feb. 9 that it will no longer directly promote its opioid drugs to doctors.
That means that instead of commission-driven Purdue Pharma salespeople pitching doctors to write prescriptions for their drugs, information about the company’s opioids will be handled through its medical affairs department, rather than through the sales department.
This is great news and a good first step to fight the nationwide opioids crisis, which has seen many thousands of individuals and families devastated by the addictive affects of these drugs, but it is only a first step.
By ending promotions about the drug directly to doctors, Purdue Pharma will at least begin to reduce the barrage of pressure on doctors to over-prescribe these powerful drugs. That’s a good move.
That intense pressure likely encouraged doctors to prescribe opioids like candy, in addition to providing patients with way more pills at a time than they needed in the first place to treat their pain following injuries.
But even after taking this action, it doesn’t make up for Purdue Pharma failing to place such controls on its drug promotions and sales tactics in the past.
Opioids, the highly addictive painkillers that doctors routinely prescribe to patients to mask pain, continue to be a growing burden on American society, despite all the warning signs and overdose deaths which occur regularly across our country every day.
Due to the wide availability and over-prescribing of opioids such as OxyContin, we today have a generation of people across the country who are addicted to these drugs. And when they get cut off these drugs by their doctors, many of these victims go on to buying street drugs which are cheaper, which continues and deepens their addictions.
While Purdue Pharma is ending the direct promotions of the drugs to doctors, this doesn’t solve the problems for people who are addicted to these substances after taking them for pain after a variety of injuries.
Purdue is being sued by cities around the nation after news investigations “revealed Purdue had extensive evidence pointing to illegal trafficking of its pills but in many cases did not share it with local law enforcement agencies or cut off the flow of the drugs,” according to a Feb. 10 story by The Los Angeles Times. “Experts have long blamed skyrocketing heroin use on painkiller addicts transitioning to the cheaper, more easily available street opioid.”
In January, Philadelphia sued Purdue Pharma and several other opioid makers in connection with the opioid addiction crisis across the country, according to a Jan. 17 story by Philly.com. Also named in the lawsuit were Allergan, Cephalon, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Endo Health Solutions and Endo Pharmaceuticals, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson and Purdue Frederick Co. Inc.
The over-prescribing of opioid painkillers over the last few years in the U.S. has fueled a nationwide addiction crisis, which is harming individuals and families, enriching drug companies and causing patients to seek more powerful drugs when the opioids no longer provide the desired effects.
More still needs to be done for the victims who have become addicted to these powerful painkillers, including adequate addiction counseling and drug treatment programs, as well as other assistance.
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