Richard Sackler

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Richard Sackler
Born
Richard Stephen Sackler

(1945-03-10) March 10, 1945 (age 74)
NationalityAmerican
Alma mater
OccupationBusinessman
Known forFormer chairman & president of Purdue Pharma
Net worthUS$13 billion (Sackler family, October 2017)[1]
Spouse(s)Beth Sackler (divorced)
Children3
Parent(s)Raymond Sackler

Richard Stephen Sackler (born March 10, 1945)[2] is an American billionaire businessman, and a former chairman and president of Purdue Pharma, a company purchased by his late father Raymond Sackler (best known as the developer of OxyContin), and whose connection to the opioid epidemic in the United States was the subject of multiple lawsuits and fines.[3][4][5]

Early life[edit]

Sackler was born in 1945, the son of Raymond Sackler and Beverly Feldman. His parents are both Jewish.[6][7] He received a bachelor's degree from Columbia University, followed by an MD degree from the New York University School of Medicine.[8]

Career[edit]

Sackler joined Purdue Pharma in 1971, as assistant to his father, the company's president.[9] He became head of research and development and head of marketing. Sackler was a key figure in the development of Oxycontin being the moving force behind Purdue Pharma's research around 1990 that pushed Oxycontin to replace MS contin that was about to have generic competition. Sackler also worked to enlist Russell Portenoy and J. David Haddox into working within the medical community to push a new narrative claiming that opioids were not highly addictive.[10] In pushing Oxycontin through to FDA approval in 1995 Sackler managed to get the FDA to approve a claim that Oxycontin was less addictive than other pain killers, although no studies on how addictive it was or how likely it was to be abused had been conducted as part of the approval process.

Sackler became president in 1999. In 2001 he issued an email to employees of the company urging them to push a narrative that addiction to Oxycontin was caused by the "criminal" addicts who had the addiction, and not caused by anything in the drug itself.[11] Sackler also urged pharmaceutical representatives to urge doctors to prescribe as high doses as possible to increase the company profits.

He was made co-chairman in 2003.[9] Sackler was in charge of the research department that developed OxyContin. As president, he approved the targeted marketing schemes to promote sales of OxyContin to doctors, pharmacists, nurses, academics, and others. Shelby Sherman, an ex-Purdue sales rep, has called these marketing schemes "graft".[3]

In 2008, Sackler, with the apparent knowledge of Mortimer Sackler and Jonathan Sackler, made Purdue Pharma measure its "performance" in proportion to not only the number but also the strength of the doses it sold, despite allegedly knowing that sustained high doses of OxyContin risked serious side effects, including addiction.[12]

In 2015, Sackler was deposed by four lawyers in Louisville, Kentucky. The deposition concerned the development and marketing of OxyContin under the watch of him and his family, who were and are active board members of their private company, Purdue Pharma. The marketing and prescribing of OxyContin in Pike County, Kentucky, was of particular interest.

Before the case could go to trial and thus before the deposition could become a matter of public record, Purdue settled for $24 million, admitting no liability, sealing the deposition, and requiring the Kentucky prosecutors to destroy, or return to Purdue, millions of pages of internal documents obtained from the company during discovery. The medical news website STAT then sued to unseal Richard Sackler's deposition. A state judge ruled in its favor. Purdue appealed, and, as of October 26, 2017, that appeal remains outstanding. The deposition cannot be made public unless the appeal is decided in favor of STAT again.[13]

In 2018 the State of Massachusetts sued Richard Sackler, Purdue Pharma, and 15 other Purdue Pharma executives and Sackler family members alleging they misled doctors and patients about the risks of its opioid-based pain medications in order to boost sales and to keep patients away from safer alternatives.[14][15] Richard Sackler wrote, "We have to hammer on the abusers in every way possible. They are the culprits and the problem. They are the reckless criminals," in an email regarding the Massachusetts court filing.[16]

In January 2019, The New York Times confirmed that Sackler told company officials in 2008 to "measure our performance by Rx’s by strength, giving higher measures to higher strengths."[17] This was verified again with legally obtained documents tied to a new lawsuit, which was filed in June by the Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, and claims that Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family knew that putting patients on high dosages of OxyContin for long periods increased the risks of serious side effects, including addiction. Nonetheless, they promoted higher dosages because stronger pain pills brought the company and the Sacklers the most profit, the lawsuit has charged. In addition, on February 1, 2019, unredacted documents were released by AG Healey showing the Sacklers were directing doctors to over-prescribe the drug and encourage medicating strategy under the code name "Region Zero", that details a list of doctors who prescribed inordinately large amounts of Oxycontin for no true medical reason, but rather for the directly related profit of the Sackler family.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Sackler was married to Beth Sackler but is now divorced;[3] they have three children, Rebecca, Marianna, and David.[19] They have a charitable foundation, the Richard and Beth Sackler Foundation.[20] He has lived outside Austin, Texas since 2013.[21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sackler family". forbes.com. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  2. ^ https://connvoters.com/by_number/0028/83597_richard_s_sackler.html
  3. ^ a b c "The Secretive Family Making Billions From the Opioid Crisis". Esquire. October 16, 2017. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  4. ^ Keefe, Patrick Radden (October 23, 2017). "The Family That Built an Empire of Pain". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  5. ^ "OxyContin® (oxycodone HCl) Extended-Release Tablets | Official Site for Patients & Caregivers". www.oxycontin.com. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  6. ^ "Richard Stephen SACKLER - Personal Appointments (free information from Companies House)". beta.companieshouse.gov.uk. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  7. ^ "Richard Stephen SACKLER - Personal Appointments (free information from Companies House)". beta.companieshouse.gov.uk. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  8. ^ "The Koch Institute: Board of Advisors - Richard S. Sackler". ki.mit.edu. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Richard Sackler, the man at the center of secret OxyContin files". statnews.com. May 12, 2016. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  10. ^ Keefe, Patrick. "The Family That Built an Empire of Pain". www.newyorker.com. New Yorker Magazine. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  11. ^ Meier, Barry. "Sacklers Directed Efforts to Mislead Public About OxyContin, New Documents Indicate". www.nytimes.com. New York Times. Retrieved January 17, 2019.
  12. ^ Meier, Barry (January 31, 2019). "Sackler Scion's Email Reveals Push for High-Dose OxyContin, New Lawsuit Disclosures Claim". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  13. ^ Keefe, Patrick Radden (October 23, 2017). "The Family That Built an Empire of Pain". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  14. ^ Dwyer, Colin. "Massachusetts Sues OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma, Saying It 'Peddled Falsehoods'". www.npr.org. NPR. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  15. ^ Christine, Willmsen; Martha, Bebinger. "Massachusetts Attorney General Implicates Family Behind Purdue Pharma In Opioid Deaths". www.npr.org. NPR.
  16. ^ https://www.bbc.com/news/business-47660040
  17. ^ Meier, Barry (January 31, 2019). "Sackler Scion's Email Reveals Push for High-Dose OxyContin, New Lawsuit Disclosures Claim". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  18. ^ "Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Purdue Pharma L.P., Purdue Pharma Inc., Richard Sackler, ... First Amended Complaint and Jury Demand" (PDF). p. 104.
  19. ^ "A family, and a transformative legacy > Cover Stories > July/August 2014 - Medicine@Yale". www.medicineatyale.org. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  20. ^ "Brothers follow parents' example to help fight cancer > Cover Stories > Nov/Dec 2009 - Medicine@Yale". www.medicineatyale.org. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  21. ^ Keefe, Patrick Radden (October 23, 2017). "The Family That Built an Empire of Pain". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved January 19, 2018.