Politics Briefing: Marketing of opioids winds down

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As prescription opioids are blamed for fuelling a crisis that has killed thousands of Canadians, five pharmaceutical companies including Purdue Pharma have heeded a call from the federal government to stop marketing those painkillers.

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor had asked for drug makers to voluntarily suspend their promotional activities relating to opioids while Health Canada develops policies aimed at restricting the marketing and advertising, expected in 2019.

The other four pharmaceutical companies that have agreed to stop advertising have not been publicly identified.

Purdue’s introduction of OxyContin in 1996 is seen as the root of the current crisis, as the company promoted the drug as safer and less addictive than other opioids.

In February, Purdue’s parent company stopped promoting prescription painkillers in the United States, where it has previously acknowledged misleading marketing and paid more than US$600-million to settle criminal and civil charges. A growing number of American states and cities have filed lawsuits against the company for deceptive marketing.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa and James Keller in Vancouver. If you’re reading this on the web or someone forwarded this email newsletter to you, you can sign up for Politics Briefing and all Globe newsletters here. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.


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