Purdue Pharma stops pushing opioids

HERRIN, IL (KFVS) - Starting Feb. 12. 2018, the pharmaceutical giant, Purdue Pharma, is taking a stand against the opioid crisis by ceasing to market prescription opioid drugs to physicians.

The company hopes this move will help with the growing dangers of the opioid crisis as a public health issue.

According to a statement by Purdue Pharma to CNN, they have laid off half of their sales force. Now there are only 200 sales representatives for the company, who are now going to be focusing on non-opioid prescriptions.

This action is coming at a time that some medical professionals say is too little, too late.

Dr. Jeff Ripperda from Shawnee Health Care in Murphysboro who treats many patients for opioid addiction who falls into this category. He said doctors have had opioids from Purdue Pharma, such as the extremely popular Oxycontin, pushed on them for over a decade.

"Oxycontin was marketed very heavily in the early 2000s as being the answer to pain," he said. "And it was marketed in such a way that we doctors were sort of made to feel that you had to keep pushing it and if somebody didn't respond to it, give them a higher dose."

Even though Purdue Pharma is going to stop marketing opioids to medical professionals, they are still going to manufacture and sell their pain-killers to pharmacies.

Owner of Logan Primary Pharmacy in Herrin, Ben Calcaterra, said this is a good thing because he believes doctors shouldn't be influenced by marketing techniques and only prescribe patients the medication they need.

He said that he thinks the decision by Purdue Pharma will have little to no impact on pharmacies like his. However, he does think it is a step in the direction of less opioids being prescribed by doctors. The result, he predicts, will have an effect on the number of opioids in public circulation.

Dr. Ripperda agrees, however he thinks doctors are still susceptible to aggressive marketing.

"It has been shown over and over again that the pharmaceutical company pushing money into marketing a drug does affect prescribing practices of doctors, nurse practitioners, PA's," he said.

In the end, Dr. Ripperda said doctors have become more aware of the dangers of opioids as the public health crisis worsens. While he sees this as a small step in the right direction, there is a long way to go.

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