How one family single-handedly caused a drug epidemic in USA

In the Louvre museum paris , the slacker family used to have a dedicated sackler wing. The Smithsonian has the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.All around the world the sacklers have invested in art. Unfortunately the sacklers are far from dedicated art patrons. 

In 1952, three brothers  Arthur, Raymond and Mortimer bought a small pharma company called purdue- frederick.The company is now known for their drug oxycontin that it has found to be a huge part in the opioid epidemic in the United states. 

In 1971,  Richard Sackler, the son of Raymond Sackler began working for Purdue Pharma as an assistant to his father, the company’s president. He was promoted to the positions of director of research and development and director of marketing. 

 Richard Sackler had a pivotal role in the development of Oxycontin, serving as the driving force behind Purdue Pharma’s research in the 1990s .

In the 1980s, there was a boom in the hospice sector i.e. care for terminally ill. During this time, Purdue released Ms Contin– a morphine based drug for Cancer patients. This was a massive success but Purdue knew they had to do more since the patent was soon going to expire and the fact that Ms contin was a morphine based drug stigmatized it.

So they created a new drug, oxycontin with the active ingredient oxycodone replacing the morphine many doctors falsely believe that oxycodone was weaker than morphine the truth was the active ingredient in oxycontin oxycodone was in fact 50% stronger than morphine later in an unpublished study by Purdue in 1999 the company found that the addiction rate was 13% not 1% the FDA  even  approved a claim the oxycontin’s delayed absorption would reduce the probability of abuse the FDA examiner he was involved in the approval of this claim left the FDA shortly and within two years had accepted a role at Purdue.

Russell Portenoy and J. David Haddox were also recruited by Sackler to engage inside the medical community to promote a new narrative suggesting that opioids were not extremely addictive. 

Purdue pursued an “aggressive” campaign to promote the use of opioids in general and OxyContin in particular.In 2001 alone, the company spent $200 million in an array of approaches to market and promote OxyContin.

The Promotion and Marketing of OxyContin: Commercial Triumph, Public Health Tragedy(Art Van Zee, MD)

Over the years researchers found strong correlations between areas of high ovepaying rdose rates to high prescription rates. This is how the truth slowly came out. Research indicates that there is a strong correlation between regions of high opioid prescription rates and high overdose rates

Patrick Radden Keefe, in an interview for his book ‘Empire of pain’ on the sackers revealed that during research he found emails that explicitly stated the fact that doctors were not aware that oxycodone is stronger than morphine and they should keep it like that .

Today, Purdue and the Sacklers agreed to a $270 million settlement with the state of Oklahoma over their role in the crisis. Purdue will pay $195 million and the Sacklers $75 million.

Yes, they will pay billions of dollars for their role in causing the opioid epidemic. But when the cases are settled, they will walk away from the lawsuits— still billionaires.

Categories: Health