Pfizer, the world's second- largest drug company, has agreed to a written code of conduct for the marketing of opioids that some officials hope will set a standard for manufacturers of narcotics and help curb the use of the addictive painkillers.
Though Pfizer does not sell many opioids compared with other industry leaders, its action sets it apart from companies that have been accused of fueling an epidemic of opioid misuse through aggressive marketing of their products.
Pfizer has agreed to disclose in its promotional material that narcotic painkillers carry serious risk of addiction — even when used properly — and promised not to promote opioids for unapproved, "off-label" uses such as long-term back pain. The company also will acknowledge there is no good research on opioids' effectiveness beyond 12 weeks.
The terms of the agreement were reached with the city of Chicago, which two years ago sued five other opioid manufacturers over alleged misleading marketing of opioids. An announcement of the agreement is expected Wednesday. Pfizer has also been aiding the city's investigation and lawsuit.