Open Letter

We make prescription opioids. And we want to limit their use.

For more than 25 years, Purdue Pharma has developed opioid medications. While opioid analgesics may help patients with acute and chronic pain when other treatment options are inadequate, earlier this year we decided that our sales representatives will no longer promote opioids to prescribers.

We are acutely aware of the public health risks opioid analgesics can create, even when taken as prescribed. And we are deeply concerned about the toll the opioid crisis is having on individuals and communities across the nation, and as a company now led by a physician, we believe the country needs a new approach to prescribing opioids.

This approach includes supporting patient access to multi-modal pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatment options; ensuring opioids are only used when alternative treatment options are inadequate; and adopting public policies aimed at reducing addiction, abuse, diversion, and overdose related to opioids. 

To help limit a patient’s unnecessary exposure to opioids and reduce the number of unused opioids that might end up in the wrong hands, we support initiatives to limit initial opioid prescriptions to no more than seven days.

To help reduce prescription drug abuse and diversion, we advocate that prescribers and pharmacists consult state Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) databases 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 support communities that have been affected by the crisis, we’ve provided funding to the National Sheriffs’ Association to help law enforcement distribute the overdose rescue drug naloxone. In addition, we’re helping to bring prescription abuse prevention education to high school students across the country.

America’s opioid crisis is the result of multiple factors. We believe that all stakeholders — healthcare leaders, drug manufacturers, policymakers, 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/.
 
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.