Purdue Pharma, the company behind prescription painkiller OxyContin said it will stop marketing opioid drugs to doctors, bowing to a key demand of lawsuits that blame the company for helping trigger the current drug abuse epidemic.
The company announced its surprise reversal on Saturday. Purdue’s statement said it eliminated more than half its sales staff this week and will no longer send sales representatives to doctors’ offices to discuss opioid drugs, starting Monday. Its remaining sales staff of about 200 will focus on other medications. 
“We have restructured and significantly reduced our commercial operation and will no longer be promoting opioids to prescribers,” the company said in a written statement.
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 …