Richard’s political contributions have gone mostly to Republicans—including Strom Thurmond and Herman Cain—though at times he has also given to Democrats. (His ex-wife, Beth Sackler, has given almost exclusively to Democrats.) In 2008, he wrote a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal denouncing Muslim support for suicide bombing, a concern that seems to persist: Since 2014, his charitable organization, the Richard and Beth Sackler Foundation, has donated to several anti-Muslim groups, including three organizations classified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. (The family spokesperson said, “It was never Richard Sackler’s intention to donate to an anti-Muslim or hate group.”) The foundation has also donated to True the Vote, the “voter-fraud watchdog” that was the original source for Donald Trump’s inaccurate claim that three million illegal immigrants voted in the 2016 election. — www.esquire.com/…
But the family goes to great lengths to hide the source of their $15 billion dollar fortune. That’s because virtually all of it comes from duping doctors into prescribing opiods, and deluding patients into thinking they’re safe to consume. Their privately held company is called Purdue Pharma (the Los Pollos Hermanos of the legal drug world).
Andrew Kolodny, the co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative, at Brandeis University, has worked with hundreds of patients addicted to opioids. He told me that, though many fatal overdoses have resulted from opioids other than OxyContin, the crisis was initially precipitated by a shift in the culture of prescribing—a shift carefully engineered by Purdue. “If you look at the prescribing trends for all the different opioids, it’s in 1996 that prescribing really takes off,” Kolodny said. “It’s not a coincidence. That was the year Purdue launched a multifaceted campaign that misinformed the medical community about the risks.” When I asked Kolodny how much of the blame Purdue bears for the current public-health crisis, he responded, “The lion’s share.” — www.newyorker.com/…
The Sackler brothers discovered that they could best market drugs by targeting physicians directly. They made hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to FDA personnel and created revolving door jobs for others in return for favorable rulings. They created a system to pay doctors for delivering speeches. They took doctors on all expense paid golfing trips. They bought a medical journal, hired renowned doctors to promote their drugs. And in return, they received a steady stream of new “patients” addicted to their drugs. Including newborns.
Opioid withdrawal, which causes aches, vomiting, and restless anxiety, is a gruesome process to experience as an adult. It’s considerably worse for the twenty thousand or so American babies who emerge each year from opioid-soaked wombs. These infants, suddenly cut off from their supply, cry uncontrollably. Their skin is mottled. They cannot fall asleep. Their bodies are shaken by tremors and, in the worst cases, seizures. Bottles of milk leave them distraught, because they cannot maneuver their lips with enough precision to create suction. Treatment comes in the form of drops of morphine pushed from a syringe into the babies’ mouths. Weaning sometimes takes a week but can last as long as twelve. It’s a heartrending, expensive process, typically carried out in the neonatal ICU, where newborns have limited access to their mothers. — www.esquire.com/…
In 2007, the company plead guilty to a felony, admitting it had lied to doctors about Oxycontin’s addictive quality. Though the company paid hundreds of millions in fines, senior executives only had to return some pay and perform community service. Their team of lawyers managed to protect the Sacklers themselves from any charges, though Richard Sackler led the company for much of this period.
While Richard Sackler continued to scrub his family’s name by plastering it across museums and universities, thousands of infants continued to be born addicted to his drugs. And Sackler knew exactly what he was doing. He refined his methods of deception and persuasion by marketing Valium, then transferred the same methods to an even more addictive drug.
What is it with conservative donors, have they all made their fortunes from pain and suffering? The DeVos/Prince family operate a war-profiteering mercenary machine. The Kochs are actively engaged in destroying the environment. Trump’s family traces it’s fortune to brothels.
The Sacklers are now taking their pill-pushing operation global:
As OxyContin spread outside the U.S., the pattern of dysfunction repeated itself: to map the geographic distribution of the drug was also to map a rash of addiction, abuse, and death. But the Sackler family has only increased its efforts abroad, and is now pushing the drug, through a Purdue-related company called Mundipharma, into Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Part of Purdue’s strategy from the beginning has been to create a market for OxyContin—to instill a perceived need by making bold claims about the existence of large numbers of people suffering from untreated chronic pain. As Purdue moves into countries like China and Brazil, where opioids may still retain the kind of stigma that the company so assiduously broke down in the United States, its marketing approach has not changed. According to a Los Angeles Times report from 2016—well after the Sacklers’ playbook for OxyContin had been repudiated by the medical establishment as possibly the main driver of the opioid epidemic—Mundipharma commissioned studies showing that millions of people in these countries suffered from chronic pain. The company has organized junkets, and paid doctors to give presentations extolling OxyContin’s virtues. In fact, certain doctors who are currently flogging OxyContin abroad—“pain ambassadors,” they are called—used to be on Purdue’s payroll as advocates for the drug in the U.S. — www.newyorker.com/…
The Sacklers have paid no price for destroying the lives of millions. Just like the serial sexual abusers finally being brought to task, the Sacklers have relied on well-placed lobbyists and an army of lawyers to ensure the cost of their deceptive business is a 10-15% fine.
The descendants who inherited this enormous fortune built on destroyed lives have not chosen to help remedy the wrongs caused by their family’s company. Instead, they continue to try to burnish their name by giving to high-profile arts and education institutions. Shamefully, these institutions continue to accept the money. A Yale spokesperson told a journalist “Yale does not vet donors for controversies that may or may not arise.”
Now they’re directly attacking our democracy with their false claims about illegal voting. A claim President Trump has actively promoted.
— @subirgrewal | Cross-posted at NotMeUs.org & TheProgressiveWing.com