Too Little, Too Late—Purdue Pharma Fires Over Half of Sales Reps

pain pill addiction

Purdue Pharma is best known for its killer drug, OxyContin. The drug was first approved for use by the FDA in 1995 and the rest is history. Since 1995, the then budding opioid epidemic grew into a hellacious monster that’s claimed the lives of thousands upon thousands of people. Addicts and patients became hooked on Purdue’s drugs due to the assembled teams of sales reps who blitzed any and all doctors who could prescribe them. The game was to make money, and the company profited handsomely at the expense of grieving families nationwide. Who knows what the world would have been like if OxyContin never existed?

Shady marketing practices put the company under major scrutiny in recent years and the company has been one of the main sources of blame when it comes to the drug crisis. After having knee surgery in 2004, I remember sitting my surgeon’s office, waiting for him to come into the examination room. As I looked around the room, there was a giant, and I mean giant, poster that read “OxyContin: Because it Works.” There was OxyContin advertising all over this office and not surprisingly, I left with a script for OxyContin, which was complete overkill for a routine laparoscopic procedure. Either way, I know I’m not the only one who had an experience like this. Thousands of people every day, all over the country, were subjected to an astronomical amount of advertising pieces brought to you by Purdue Pharma. Fast-forward to present time, we have a completely out-of-control opioid problem and Purdue has been a major source of blame for the whole thing, as they should be.

According to Bloomberg, Purdue Pharma has stated that they will stop advertising and promoting their drugs to doctors. Purdue said they have reduced their sales reps by over half, with only 200 remaining company wide. The company went on record, saying “We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers.” Instead of pushing pain pills, the remaining sales reps will be concentrating on selling the company’s opioid-induced constipation drug. And while the company single-handedly helped to kick off a catastrophic epidemic, they’re now acting as supporters in the fight against opioid addiction, which is slightly infuriating, since this is their mess that we’re having to clean up anyway.

I am happy, however, that the company is dialing back their marketing campaigns and questionable tactics. OxyContin stuffed animals and hats was a bit over-the-top. While I’m very concerned about the consequences of their actions, it’s good to see Purdue trying to take some responsibility for what they’ve done, since the world has been permanently changed by their greed and complete disregard for human life. It’s bittersweet, but it’s better than nothing.

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Jason Good

Jason has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over 10 years. Having been an addict himself he brings real-word experience to the table when helping addicts and their families, while also offering a first-person perspective to the current drug crisis. Jason is passionate about educating the public about what’s currently going on in our society, and thankfully, offers practical solutions. Jason is also the co-host of The Addiction Podcast—Point of No Return. You can follow Jason on Google+, Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.