The Sackler Family: The First Family of OxyContin

Opioid addiction is plaguing the country, and according to Chris Glazek, one family arguably bears a lot of responsibility for the crisis.

Glazek wrote an eye-opening story about the Sacklers, “first family of OxyContin” in Esquire, called ‘The Secretive Family Making Billions From The Opioid Crisis.”  

“The Sacklers are a billionaire clan with homes scattered across the world in New York City, in London, in the Hamptons,” he explained. “As I write in the piece, they really pulled off three of the great marketing triumphs in the modern era. The first is promoting and selling OxyContin, one of the most successful drugs of all time. The second is promoting and burnishing the Sackler name as these donors to the arts and higher education. And the third is ensuring that so far as the public knows, that these first two have nothing to do with each other.”

The Sacklers have made plenty of contributions to the art world, and have wings at the Met, the Lourve, and at the American Museum of Natural History. But they also made millions of dollars in pharmaceutical advertising, starting with their marketing strategy for Valium. Though there was already an identical “anti-anxiety” medication on the market, targeted at a narrow group of patients, Arthur Sackler strategized to sell an identical substance, but claim that would treat a wide range of ailments, from physical problems to headaches, to sexual problems. They later got into the pain management industry and profited billions of dollars off of OxyContin, which is a cornerstone of America’s opioid addiction.

According to Glazek, the Sacklers have still not commented publicly about the crisis, creating what he calls an ancillary “accountability crisis.”

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