The maker of the powerful painkiller OxyContin said it will stop marketing opioid drugs to doctors, a surprise reversal following lawsuits that blamed the company for helping trigger the current drug abuse epidemic.
OxyContin has long been the world’s top-selling opioid painkiller. It generated billions in sales for privately-held Purdue.
The pill, a time-release version of oxycodone, was hailed as a breakthrough treatment for chronic pain when it was approved in late 1995. But some users quickly discovered they could get a heroin-like high by crushing the pills and snorting or injecting the entire dose at once.
Purdue’s promotions exaggerated the drug’s safety and risks of addiction, leading to lawsuits and federal investigations. But the drug continued to rack up blockbuster sales.