Jan. 19, 2021 – On May 23, 2019, the day my son was coming home from college, I was flying to Warsaw for an awards ceremony. He texted me that he’d gotten home all right but complained that he was “in a lot of physical pain” because he’d been practicing backflips. On WhatsApp, the Sacklers were vetting an op-ed that the Purdue board chairman, Steve Miller, was about to publish in the Wall Street Journal. The piece bemoaned a “campaign of public vilification” and complained that Purdue was facing nearly two thousand separate lawsuits all over the country. It argued that the real solution to the opioid crisis lay in dropping the litigation and letting the company establish anti-addiction charitable programs. “Steve Miller’s piece is excellent,” Ilene, daughter of Mortimer and a former member of the Purdue board, wrote. “I got them to eliminate any mention of the family,” her brother Mortimer wrote. Their sister Samantha, who had not been a member of the board, was less enthusiastic. “It does nothing to change the narrative,” she wrote.

The next morning, I was in the lobby of my Warsaw hotel, being interviewed by a journalist, when my daughter called. It was four or five in the morning in New York. She said that her brother was not breathing. She had already called 911.



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