The Sacklers, owners of drug giant Purdue Pharma LP, have a combined fortune estimated by Forbes at $ 13 billion.
The lawsuits, including a case brought Thursday by the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office that produced fresh and deeply unflattering revelations about the family, revealed that the Sacklers had increased their fortune by pushing what they knew be pain killers and pain killers on both doctors and patients. Reap more than $ 4 billion in opioid profits over the course of a decade.
But before it was scathing in the newspapers, the name Sackler was closely associated with some of the world's most important cultural and academic institutions.
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Sackler Wing houses one of the jewels of the museum: the Dendur Temple. A Sackler brother, Mortimer, organized a birthday party at the museum in adulthood, with a cake in the shape of a Great Sphinx but for a particular detail: his face was a replica of that of Mortimer, according to the New Yorker.
The Sacklers also donated a wing to the Louvre; a courtyard at the Victoria & Albert Museum; a feminist art center at the Brooklyn Museum; and an arts education center at the Guggenheim Museum of Art; and donated to dozens of other institutions, including the National Gallery, the Tate, the Smithsonian, and the American Museum of Natural History.
And they have funded dozens of educational programs, professorships and medical research programs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia, Cornell and Stanford Universities and the Yale Cancer Center.
The presumed role of the family in the opioid crisis having come to light in litigation, many of these institutions have come under increasing pressure to have their gifts returned and the family name removed from the place of residence.
Purdue Pharma and family owners have secretly pursued plans to become a "full-service provider of pain medications" by selling both opioids and opioid addiction medications, according to unclassified court documents published on Thursday. The documents also allege that the Sacklers deceived for a decade to push their pharmaceuticals, namely the pain medication OxyContin, on doctors and patients, while they knew that the highly addictive drugs were at risk. 39, origin of overdoses and deaths.
A spokesman for Purdue, Bob Josephson, said Thursday that the publication of the unredacted complaint was "part of a continuing effort to identify Purdue, to blame him for the whole opioid crisis, and to judge him." Case in the court of public opinion, the judicial system. "
"Massachusetts seeks to publicly defame Purdue, its leaders, employees and administrators, while unfairly undermining the important work we have done to address the opioid addiction crisis by taking contextual fragments into tens of millions of dollars. documents and distorting their meaning blatantly, riddled with blatantly inaccurate allegations ".
The family knew its fortune thanks to three brothers Sackler: Arthur, Mortimer and Raymond. Now deceased, all were doctors who grew up in Brooklyn. Arthur and Mortimer worked in medical-related advertising, and in 1952 the brothers bought a patented drug company, Purdue Frederick.
After Arthur's death in 1987, his estate sold his stock options to his brothers and the company changed its name to Purdue Pharma. In the 1990s, she began developing OxyContin, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1995.
OxyContin continued its momentum. It has also become known as the root of the prescription opioid crisis in America.
Opioids are a class of pharmaceuticals including prescription painkillers such as OxyContin, morphine and fentanyl, as well as illicit drugs such as heroin. In 2017, there were 47,600 deaths related to opioid-related drugs in the United States – more than the number of breast cancer deaths – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Eight of the Sacklers are named as defendants in the lawsuit filed by the Massachusetts Attorney General, along with Purdue and nine others currently or formerly associated with the company.
Former Purdue board chairman Richard Sackler, one of Raymond's sons, is being sued. He describes him as a micromanager, constantly seeking to increase his profits even though the opioid crisis was well advanced.
Sackler sometimes went to doctors' offices with sales representatives to increase sales and was looking for aggressive and positive advertising, even though Purdue executives were worried about how he was promoting the drug, according to the documents. filed by the court.
In 2001, the lawsuit indicated that Sackler had disclosed in a confidential email "his solution to the overwhelming evidence of overdose and death: blaming and stigmatizing people who developed opioid addiction."
"We have to hit the attackers in every possible way," he wrote, according to the trial. "They are the culprits and the problem, they are reckless criminals."
Yet, other Sacklers have left the family business. Madeleine Sackler, Raymond's granddaughter, is a director and producer who has directed films about charter schools and the prison. Elizabeth Sackler, Arthur's daughter, founded the Feminist Art Center at the Brooklyn Museum and last year she told Good Medical that "the opioid epidemic is a national crisis and that the role of Purdue Pharma is morally hateful ".
She also supported a project by photographer Nan Goldin, who said she was struggling with an addiction to OxyContin, to draw attention to the role of the Sackler in the opioid crisis and encourage museums to remove their names from their buildings and galleries.
Madeleine and Elizabeth Sackler are not accused in the trial.
In a statement to WBUR radio station in January, Daniel Weiss, President and CEO of the Met, suggested that the museum return to support from the Sacklers.
"The Sackler family has been linked to the Met for more than half a century.The family is an extended and extensive group, and their support for the Met began decades before the opioid crisis," Weiss said. "The Met is currently undertaking a new review of its detailed policies regarding the acceptance of gifts, and we will have other information to report in a timely manner."