Open Letter

We manufacture prescription opioids, and we’ll continue our work to address the opioid crisis.

Helping patients by making medicines is what we do at Purdue Pharma, and it was the principle upon which physician brothers founded the company. We are currently developing medications to help patients dealing with cancer and central nervous system disorders, while continuing our historic focus on pain management.

Our company makes OxyContin®. While opioid pain medication can help patients with acute and chronic pain when other treatment options are inadequate, we are aware of the risks opioid pain medicines can create: even when taken as prescribed, they carry risks of addiction, abuse, and misuse that can lead to overdose and death. Earlier this year we ended our practice of promoting opioid medications to prescribers through sales representatives. 

Because we are deeply concerned about the toll the opioid crisis is having on individuals and communities across the nation, we think it is important to share some of the measures we support to help address the prescription and illicit opioid abuse crisis.

  • We support initiatives to limit initial opioid prescriptions to no more than seven days. This will help limit unnecessary exposure to opioids and reduce the number of unused opioids that might end up in the wrong hands.
  • We advocate that prescribers and pharmacists consult state Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) databases, which track controlled substance prescriptions in a state, before writing or dispensing any opioid prescription. Studies suggest that PDMPs can help reduce the number of prescriptions written for opioids and that PDMP use is associated with a reduction in pain medications received for nonmedical use from multiple doctors.1,2 To aid in this effort, we provided funding to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy to enable states to connect to a platform and share PDMP data with other states at no cost, which complemented the company’s early efforts of advocating for PDMP use.
  • We encourage increased adoption of electronic prescribing of controlled substances to help reduce diversion. Unlike traditional paper prescriptions, electronic prescriptions can’t be copied or stolen, and they’re more difficult to alter or forge.3,4
  • We urge everyone to learn more about safer storage of prescription opioids to reduce the likelihood of diversion and misuse. Medication Guides for opioids include information about safe storage and what to do with any remaining or unused pills after someone stops taking them.
  • We joined the Prescription Drug Safety Network, a public-private initiative created by EVERFI, to support school-based prevention education efforts, and we encourage additional organizations to join as well.

America’s opioid crisis is the result of multiple factors. We believe that everyone involved — physicians, healthcare leaders, drug manufacturers, drug distributors and retailers, policymakers, law enforcement, and public health officials — need to come together to drive meaningful solutions forward. While no single intervention alone will solve this crisis, partnerships, determination, and innovative approaches are steps in the right direction.

 

1 Bao Y, Pan Y, Taylor A. Prescription drug monitoring programs are associated with sustained reductions in opioid prescribing by physicians. Health Affairs (Project Hope). 35(2016)1045–1051. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5336205/. Accessed July 12, 2018.
2 Ali MM, Dowd W, Classen T. Prescription drug monitoring programs, nonmedical use of prescription drugs, and heroin use: evidence from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health. Addictive Behaviors. 69(2017)65–77.
3 DrFirst. The evolving EPCS landscape: A prescription for stopping opioid abuse. Retrieved from: https://go.drfirst.com/hubfs/2016-03-24/2h8klr/8842/141586/EPCS_Whitepaper_DrFirst_3.2016.pdf.
4 Thomas CP, et al. Prescribers’ expectations and barriers to electronic prescribing of controlled substances. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2012;19:375e381. doi:10.1136/amiajnl-2011-000209.