Oxycontin-maker Purdue Pharma LP cut off the rest of its sales force this week, the company's latest move to distance itself from opiates, as it faces accusations that it contributed to the nation's addiction crisis .
The Stamford, Connecticut-based drugmaker said it will retain about 550 employees after cutting around 350 positions, including about 250 employees focused on promoting treatment for opioid-induced constipation, Symproic. That product was launched last year in partnership with Shionogi & Co., based in Japan. Shionogi & Co. The other employees worked at the company headquarters.
Purdue said in February that it would stop promoting its opioid medications to doctors, reducing its sales force by more than half. It was a setback after years of criticism that the aggressive sales efforts of the company helped lay the foundations of the US addiction crisis.
Purdue said in a statement that it will continue to investigate cancer and diversify into new areas, including the central nervous system.
"While the development of major new drugs will be the company's priority in the future, we will continue to support our portfolio of opioid badgesic products as we continue our commitment to take meaningful action to reduce opiate abuse and addiction" said the company.
OxyContin, approved in 1995, is the company's best-selling drug, although sales of the pain pill have declined in recent years amid generic competition. It generated $ 1.8 billion in 2017, compared to $ 2.8 billion five years earlier, according to data compiled by Symphony Health Solutions. It also sells the badgesic Hysingla and Butrans, a transdermal patch.
Purdue is credited with helping to develop many modern aggressive pharmaceutical promotion tactics. Purdue and other manufacturers and distributors of opioids are accused in hundreds of lawsuits for creating a public health crisis through their commercialization of painkillers. Purdue has said he should not be blamed for the opiate crisis.
He has recently positioned himself as an advocate in the fight against the crisis of opiate addiction, as overdoses of prescription drugs claim thousands of American lives each year. He posted full-page ads in major newspapers in December, promoting his drugs to deter abuse and supporting federal guidelines for safe prescription of opioids. He also partnered with the National Association of Marshals to help finance the distribution of the drug that reversed the naloxone overdose.