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Drug company ends face-to-face marketing for opioid product to Mass. doctors in AG settlement

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  Attorney General Maura Healey recently announced that a drug company has agreed to pay $185,000 and stopped marketing its opioids through in-person detailing – a one-to-one technique of educating about a vendor’s products – to Massachusetts prescribers and “Speaker Programs” with health care professionals, resolving allegations of unfair and deceptive practices. The assurance of discontinuance is the result of an investigation by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office of Collegium Pharmaceutical, Inc.’s deceptive marketing of its opioid product, Xtampza ER. According to the AG’s Office, Collegium sales representatives misled doctors about the potential risks of the drug by marketing it as a safe and responsible alternative to other opioids, even though Xtampza has the same active ingredient (oxycodone) as other drugs like OxyContin.

  “Drug companies should not be going into doctors’ offices deceptively marketing addictive drugs as we work to combat a growing opioid epidemic in our state,” said Healey. “Our resolution with Collegium will put an end to these marketing tactics and provide much-needed resources for treatment and recovery.”

  The AG’s investigation found that Collegium sales representatives arranged face-to-face meetings with physicians and other health care professionals and promoted Xtampza more than 5,000 times since May 2016. Collegium allegedly misled Massachusetts doctors about Xtampza’s risks and appropriate uses by deceptively marketing it as a safer and more responsible choice than other opioids and improperly marketing it to treat acute pain. Allegedly, sales representatives also implied that Xtampza’s properties made it less subject to abuse than OxyContin.

  Prior to 2018, Collegium also marketed its drug through sponsored “Speaker Programs” at which a physician or other health care professional made a speech or presentation to other health care professionals about the drug. Collegium ceased in-person detailing about Xtampza in Massachusetts, effective December 1, 2021, and ended its Speaker Programs in Massachusetts in 2018.

  Under the AG’s agreement, Collegium will not resume its Speaker Programs and in-person detailing tactics to promote Xtampza in Massachusetts. The AG’s agreement also requires Collegium to publicly disclose important information online about the doses of its opioids that are sold each quarter, in Massachusetts and the entire nation, to provide real-time information that can be used by policymakers, advocates and journalists monitoring the opioid epidemic. The AG’s agreement also includes a $185,000 payment to the Commonwealth, the majority of which will go towards the state’s Local Consumer Aid Fund, the Municipal Naloxone Bulk Purchase Trust Fund and the Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund.

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