May 6, 2021 – Before Richard Sackler—father of David Sackler, who’s married to Joss—became president of Purdue Pharma, he played a central role in the company’s launch of OxyContin in 1995. In 2019, New York attorney general Letitia James described the drug as the “taproot” of the health crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 500,000 people have died from an overdose involving an opioid between 1999 and 2019. For years prior, beginning with Richard’s father, Raymond, and uncles Arthur and Mortimer, the Sacklers occupied a simultaneously prominent and mysterious position: their name had been plastered across museums and universities, but the nature of the fortune that paid for those placements remained far more private.  The Sacklers’ desire for public obscurity pulses through Empire of Pain.Keefe writes about how Richard’s brother, Jonathan Sackler, as an owner of Purdue, sought to keep the Sackler name out of reports about the opioid epidemic. Into his old age, Raymond asked about how to make the Times“less focused on OxyContin.” Jonathan’s daughter, the Emmy-winning filmmaker Madeleine Sackler, is known to brush off questions about the original source of her money, Keefe writes. Arthur, whose pioneering workin medical advertising set the table for Purdue’s later success, once said that privacy allowed him to “do things the way I want to do them.” But some opportunities became too tantalizing for him to remain out of view. In 1978, New York City mayor Ed Koch, a friend of his, toasted the opening of the Met’s new Sackler Wing.



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