OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma announced it will stop marketing its painkillers to doctors. According to Bloomberg, the company told its employees that it will eliminate half of its sales force and send a letter to doctors this week telling them that salespeople will no longer go to clinics to talk about their opioid products. Is there really fair?
Purdue’s profits from OxyContin, as well as opioid prescriptions in general, have recently dropped — OxyContin generated $1.8 billion in 2017, down from $2.8 billion in 2012, Bloomberg reported.
However the company has had a lot of problems. In 2007, Purdue Pharma and three of its top executives paid more than $630 million in federal fines for their misleading marketing. The three executives were also criminally convicted, each sentenced to three years of probation and 400 hours of community service.
The time-released, supposedly addiction-proof version of the high-strength, high-controversy painkiller has racked up sales estimated at more than $35 billion , Forbes notes so tell me again how laying off 200 sales people is going to hurt the company?
Those of us in pharma know that sales people are only trained to say what has been approved by management. They have to stick very closely to detail pieces or risk losing their jobs. So while sales people pay the price for the company’s arrogance and greed their executives still take home huge paychecks and lose their conscience every time they cash their checks.
According to what I have read the health care costs of OxyContin addiction are well into the billions of dollars. If we wanted to truly punish Purdue criminal indictments would be handed down to top executives and we would fine them for the total sales of OxyContin, well over $35 billion.
But who said justice is fair? Instead sales people who were doing just what they were told are paying the price with pink slips. The sad part is that Purdue is a stain on the good people working in pharma and proof that greed is indeed alive and well in big pharma.