The Sackler Saga

          “More than 600 cities, counties and Native American tribes from 28 states have filed a federal lawsuit against eight members of the Sackler family -- owners of the pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma LP -- accusing them of creating the opioid addiction crisis through ownership of the company that manufactures the painkiller OxyContin."

          "Eight people in a single family made the choices that caused much of the opioid epidemic," the suit says. - CNN, March 24, 2019

          Like other suits that have been filed, this one alleges the Sackler family made a fortune by using deceptive marketing to sell addictive and potentially deadly painkillers.

Why focus on the Sacklers?

            Dr. Arthur Sackler, a marketing genius in the drug industry in the nineties, used the lofty position of his medical license to assure other doctors that OxyContin, the pain drug created by his Purdue Pharma was not addictive. Believing that it was safe, doctors everywhere flooded the market with one of the most addictive drugs in history. His is how the opioid crisis began in America. In no time at all, addicts who didn’t have ready access to prescriptions began to turn to drugs like heroin and Fentanyl to scratch their itch.

           Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid derivative that is similar to morphine, but it is 50 to 100 times more potent. It is a prescription drug that is illegally made and then brought over the border from Mexico by the ton. It all began with this evil man and his family who luxuriated in the billions of dollars of blood money earned from the ruined lives (and deaths) of hundreds of thousands of Americans. They then hid behind their enormous charitable contributions to art galleries and museums, making them heroes in the eyes of the elite. Now it has been revealed for what they really are and what they’ve done to America over the past three decades.

Sackler’s defense

          “The company our fathers and grandfathers founded manufactures an FDA-approved medicine that has always represented a tiny portion of the opioid market -- never more than four percent of nationwide opioid prescriptions and currently less than two percent -- while providing life-changing relief for the millions of pain patients who need it.

          "While we have always acted properly, we remain committed to making a meaningful contribution to solutions that save lives by preventing diversion and abuse of prescription medicines and treating those who are suffering from addiction."

FDA approved?

           The FDA approved OxyContin in 1995 in spite of the fact that Purdue Pharma had conducted no clinical studies on how addictive or prone to abuse the drug might be. Dr. Curtis Wright, the FDA examiner who approved the drug package insert for OxyContin which announced that the drug was safer than rival painkillers, because of the patented delayed-absorption mechanism “is believed to reduce the abuse liability.” Wright left the agency shortly afterward. He later went to work at Purdue Pharma.

How did they do it?

           Senator Estes Kefauver investigated them and learned they had a totally integrated enterprise from creating the drug, marketing, ties the FDA, and the AMA. It was a small empire unto its own designed to assure any drug they created would be a financial home run. The painkiller they created, “in terms of narcotic firepower, OxyContin was a nuclear weapon”.

           The brothers created focus groups with doctors promoting OxyContin as a “gift of nature,” and that it could be used long-term with minimal risk of addiction. They sponsored huge conventions with respected doctors and opinion leaders who extolled this amazing drug as helping in cases of intractable pain without any side effects.

           It had never been tested to find out how addictive it can be.

There are other pharmaceutical companies producing opioids

          Perhaps Sackler is right, there are other companies making opioids. And you can count on them being brought into the fight over the opioid crisis before it’s all over. But the bottom line is that had it not been for the lie knowingly forwarded by Arthur Sackler and family, the drug would have never been so generously and easily prescribed.

Hiding the guilt

          With the money rolling in, the Sacklers became great philanthropists and huge monuments have been raised in their name:

 New York:
  • American Museum of Natural History’s Sackler Educational Laboratory, New York
  • Dia Art Foundation’s Sackler Institute, New York
  • Guggenheim Museum’s Sackler Center for Arts Education, New York
  • Dulwich Picture Gallery at sunset (photo by Fæ, via Wikimedia Commons)
  • The Sackler Crossing at Kew Gardens (photo by Prl42, via Wikimedia Commons)
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Sackler Wing, New York
United Kingdom
  • Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology’s Sackler Keeper of Antiquities, University of Oxford, UK
  • British Museum’s Raymond and Beverly Sackler Rooms, London
  • City & Guilds of London Art School’s Sackler Library, UK
  • Dulwich Picture Gallery’s Sackler Director and Sackler Centre for Arts Education, London
  • National Gallery’s Sackler Room, London
  • Natural History Museum’s Sackler Biodiversity Imaging Laboratory, London
  • Royal Ballet School, London (funded by the Sackler Trust)
  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s Sackler Crossing, Richmond, UK
  • Royal College of Art’s Sackler Building, London
  • Royal Opera, London (Dame Theresa Sackler is an honorary director)
  • Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London
  • Shakespeare’s Globe’s Sackler Studios, London
  • Tate Modern’s Sackler Escalator, London
  • University of Cambridge’s Raymond and Beverley Sackler Distinguished Lecture in Archaeology, UK
  • University of Oxford’s Sackler Library, UK
  • Victoria and Albert Museum Sackler Courtyard, London
  • Westminster Abbey’s stained glass window for Dr. Mortimer Sackler, London
France:  Louvre’s Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities, Paris
Germany:  Jewish Museum Berlin‘s Sackler Staircase

Rejection of donation

          Many of these institutions are now refusing to accept more donations, including the Guggenheim in NY (as of March 25, 2019), and the rest will follow as perhaps indictments may be made.

More money

          Purdue continues to pursue its successful PR about their drugs to countries in South America and Asia. Their intention is to alleviate all pain, whether needed or not, in the world regardless of who’s life is ruined.  They cannot hide behind this excuse for their criminality. They have been darlings of the upper crust of society with their philanthropy and have luxuriated in their millions, all along knowing what effects their drugs were having on society.

They can run but they cannot hide

          Yes, other companies within Big Pharma will be singled out and sued. Hopefully the net effect of this will be to not only give justice, but help those who have been so terribly injured. The Sacklers were Purdue Pharma, a family corporation. Individually they created the opioid crisis and individually they enjoyed the billions they earned from it. Yes, justice will have it that they are not only deprived of the fortune, but hopefully also disgraced and exiled from their fancy friends they bought with their money.

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