OxyContin Maker Ceases Painkiller Promotion Across Canada

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

The pharmaceutical giant behind the painkiller OxyContin is ceasing its promotion and advertising of medications to doctors in Canada.

Representatives for the Canadian-branch of Purdue Pharma said in a June 27 letter to health regulators that they ended “all promotional and advertising activities relating to our prescription opioids” in the country June 20, reports The Globe and Mail.

Purdue’s action comes in response to a request from Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor for pharmaceutical companies to suspend pill promotion amid rising rates of opioid abuse in Canada. Taylor argues this will give the government more time to craft stricter regulations regarding prescription painkillers.

Purdue Pharma faces a bevy of lawsuits in the U.S. alleging the company’s aggressive marketing of prescription opioids helped spark the current addiction crisis. (RELATED: More Than A Quarter Of US States Are Now Suing The Makers Of OxyContin)

“While we have taken this action, we remain steadfast in our belief that Canadian prescribers require the most recent information, including on the most current guidelines, to ensure their patients are treated appropriately,” David Pidduck, president and CEO of Purdue Pharma in Canada, said in the letter. “Going forward requests for information about our opioid products from health care professionals will be addressed reactively through direct communication with the experienced health care professionals in our Medical Affairs department.”

Purdue Pharma announced June 19 they eliminated their entire remaining U.S. sales team, effectively ending any contact the company has with medical providers regarding their medications. The company cut more than half of their sales force in February when they announced an official end to their promotion of opioid painkillers directly to doctors in the U.S.

Purdue Pharma denies allegations of complicity in the opioid epidemic and claims they are committed to curbing rates of opioid abuse.

Purdue Pharma is facing 26 lawsuits filed by state attorneys general and more than 400 lawsuits from cities and counties across the country. They accuse the company of orchestrating a fraudulent marketing scheme to boost sales of OxyContin that downplayed the risks for addiction from pain medication.

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