State lawsuits against Purdue have mounted in recent months as governments at all levels have struggled to combat the opioid epidemic - much of which, experts say, was caused by excessive prescription of powerful painkillers like OxyContin.
Prescription opioid giant Purdue Pharma 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 for the US addiction crisis.
At least 14 states have sued Purdue, and many cities including Greenfield and Springfield in Western Massachusetts.
He said Purdue's decision is helpful, but it won't make a major difference unless other opioid drug companies do the same.
The company slashed more than half of its current sales force, alerting staff to the changes in a letter earlier this week. Purdue, which has reportedly generated approximately $35 billion dollars in revenue, in a statement said it had "restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers". The suits accuse pharmaceutical companies of pushing doctors to sell addictive painkillers.
About 200 remaining Purdue salespeople will focus on promoting the company's drug to treat opioid-induced constipation, Symproic.
Dozens of lawsuits across the country allege Purdue Pharma launched a fraudulent marketing scheme to boost sales of OxyContin in the late 1990s that downplayed the risks for addiction from pain medication.
US deaths linked to opioids have quadrupled since 2000 to roughly 42,000 in 2016, or about 115 lives lost per day.
Andrew Kolodny, director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University in MA, told the Associated Press that although Purdue's decision to stop marketing the drug is helpful, it won't make a major difference unless other opioid drug companies follow suit. The company in 2007 paid out $600 million to settle civil and criminal charges related to the drug's marketing, with three company executives agreeing to pay an additional $34.5 million.
"It is hard to promote more cautious prescribing to the medical community because opioid manufacturers promote opioid use", he said.