from the pseudoaddicted dept.
South Carolina has become the sixth U.S. state to sue opioid makers over their marketing practices and contribution to the opioid epidemic:
The lawsuit by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, filed in Richland County Court of Common Pleas in Columbia, accuses the company of the unfair and deceptive marketing of opioid painkillers. Wilson claimed Purdue has told doctors that patients who receive prescriptions for opioids generally will not become addicted and those who appeared to be were only "pseudoaddicted" and needed more of the drugs.
[...] Since a 2007 settlement with South Carolina, Purdue has continued to downplay the addictiveness of its opioid products and overstated the benefits compared to other pain management treatments, according to the lawsuit. "While there is a time and place for patients to receive opioids, Purdue prevented doctors and patients from receiving complete and accurate information about opioids in order to make informed choices about their treatment options," Wilson said in a statement.
Stamford, Connecticut-based Purdue denied the allegations and said it shares the concerns of South Carolina officials about the crisis and is committed to finding solutions. Purdue and other drugmakers have been sued over opioid products by Oklahoma, Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri and New Hampshire as well as cities and counties in California, Illinois, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee and New York.
Is this Big Pharma's Tobacco Moment?
Pain-pill giant Purdue Pharma LP will stop promoting its opioid drugs to doctors, a retreat after years of criticism that the company's aggressive sales efforts helped lay the foundation of the U.S. addiction crisis.
The company told employees this week that it would cut its sales force by more than half, to 200 workers. It plans to send a letter Monday to doctors saying that its salespeople will no longer come to their clinics to talk about the company's pain products.
"We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers," the company said in a statement. Instead, any questions doctors have will be directed to the Stamford, Connecticut-based company's medical affairs department.
OxyContin, approved in 1995, is the closely held company's biggest-selling drug, though sales of the pain pill have declined in recent years amid competition from generics. It generated $1.8 billion in 2017, down from $2.8 billion five years earlier, according to data compiled by Symphony Health Solutions. It also sells the painkiller Hysingla.
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Following hundreds of lawsuits over the years against pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma, Colorado's attorney general is suing the OxyContin creator for its "significant role in causing the opioid epidemic." The lawsuit claims Purdue Pharma L.P. and Purdue Pharma Inc. deluded doctors and patients in Colorado about the potential for addiction with prescription opioids and continued to push the drugs. And it comes amid news that the company's former chairman and president, Richard Sackler, has patented a new drug to help wean addicts from opioids.
[...] In federal court in 2007, three top current and former employees for Purdue pleaded guilty to criminal charges, admitting that they had falsely led doctors and their patients to believe that OxyContin was less likely to be abused than other drugs in its class, according to The New York Times. Then earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Purdue planned to stop promoting the drug.
Now, it seems, a new business venture is only adding to the outcry. The Financial Times reported that Sackler, whose family owns Purdue Pharma, a multibillion-dollar company, patented a new drug earlier this year that is a form of buprenorphine, a mild opioid that is used to ease withdrawal symptoms. However, some are expressing outrage that the Sacklers, who have in essence profited from opioid addictions, may soon be profiting from the antidote. "It's reprehensible what Purdue Pharma has done to our public health," Luke Nasta, director of Camelot, a New York-based treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction, told the Financial Times. He told the newspaper that the Sackler family "shouldn't be allowed to peddle any more synthetic opiates - and that includes opioid substitutes."
Financial Times also reported that the Sackler family owns Rhodes Pharma, "a little-known Rhode Island-based drugmaker that is among the largest producers of off-patent generic opioids in the U.S."
Also at The Independent.
Previously: City of Everett, Washington Sues OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma
OxyContin's 12-Hour Problem
South Carolina Sues OxyContin Maker Purdue
Purdue Pharma to Cut Sales Force, Stop Marketing Opioids to Doctors
Tens or Hundreds of Billions of Dollars Needed to Combat Opioid Crisis? (Massachusetts Attorney General sues Sackler family)