Jul 3, 2015 | By Tim Powers

Meet The Royal Family Behind Oxycontin

Addiction & Recovery News

Image courtesy of www.forbes.com

I don’t know about you, but Forbes magazine’s annual richest U.S families list is always an interesting read. Here I am quite content and happy being a “thousandaire” and I get to read about people and families who are able to add a few more zeros to the end of their fortune.

I couldn’t even imagine being that obscenely wealthy; well, maybe I could, but what I am imagining wouldn’t be very flattering.

At any rate, this year’s list are full of the usual names: Walton, Koch, Hearst, Dupont. This year, however, there is a new name on that list: Sackler.

The Sackler family, with an estimated net worth of $14 billion, largely flew under the radar and had supplanted storied families such as the Rockefellers, Mellons and Busches.

How did the Sackler family amass such a fortune? By making the producing arguably the most addictive and controversial drug of this century — OxyContin.

Who is the Sackler Family?

The Sackler family owns Purdue Pharma as well as several other large drug companies that sell to Asia, Latin America, Europe and Canada. Since introducing the time-released version of oxycodone back in 1995, it has generated sales of approximately $35 billion and the company generates about $3 billion annually in profits – mostly from the sales of OxyContin.

Purdue Pharma was founded in 1952 by brothers Arthur, Mortimer and Raymond Sackler – all whom were practicing psychiatrists. Initially, they sold products such as laxatives and earwax removers and had achieved moderate success. The company had stayed under the radar until the early 1990’s when they began to dabble in pain medications.

They had taken the painkiller oxycodone and added a time-release mechanism with the idea that it would discourage abuse and misuse. OxyContin was introduced in 1995 and was initially marketed towards cancer patients. After its launch, doctors had started prescribing the drug for a variety of pain management situations and by 2003 annual sales of the drug hit $1.5 billion.

The OxyContin Controversy

While the drug was created and touted as being abuse resistant, those who became addicted to the drug quickly realized they could simply crush the pills and thus break apart the time-release mechanism. When addiction rates and deaths results from the misuse of OxyContin began to dramatically surge, Purdue Pharma found themselves in trouble with the government.

According to a recent article published in Forbes magazine, the company paid $670 million in fines after pleading guilty to false advertising. While the company has reformulated OxyContin, Purdue Pharma is still facing lawsuits stemming from the drug’s previous formulation. Currently, a civil lawsuit by the state of Kentucky could reportedly yield damages in excess of $1 billion.

The Continuing Prescription Painkiller Problem

The abuse of OxyContin and other prescription painkillers has remained a major concern here in the United States and worldwide. According to information provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is estimated that between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide with an estimated 2.1 million people in the United States suffering from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers in 2012.

Additionally, it is estimated that approximately 52 million people over the age of 12 have used prescription drugs non-medically at least once in their lifetime with 6.1 million people abusing prescription medications in the past month. With all of this information, the big question is whether the Sackler family is putting profits over people’s health and well-being.

While there is no doubt that OxyContin and other prescription painkillers are effective pain management tools when used in the short-term and carefully prescribed and monitored by medical staff, the continuing abuse of these drugs raises big questions in regards to finding safer pain management alternatives.

Prescription painkiller addiction continues to be a major concern in our country and throughout the world. If you or a loved one is struggling with painkiller addiction, it is important to find the resources and help you need to combat painkiller addiction.

As the world’s leading internet resource for addiction and treatment resources, Sober Nation provides you with the informative articles, blogs and treatment resources you need to help you or a loved one break the cycle of addiction once and for all. If you are seeking to beat your addiction once and for all, contact us today.

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16 responses to “Meet The Royal Family Behind Oxycontin

  • Kimberly Miller

    8 years ago

    Right now I’m detoxing from morphine and Percocet, I was taking 15mg condone began abusing, so I backed down to Percocet, 120mgs morphine, also backed down to 60mg, ten days ago I quit cold turkey, it’s been brutal, I not only was picking up mine but buying off the streets. At 43 my brother died right before Christmas, he was also a pill addict like me. This kind of stuff makes me so mad, I’ve had cervical fusion, ruptured disk in my thoracic, missing four disks in my lumbar. severe nerve damage. I’d rather be in pain every day, then like my brother did, alone….No one understood his addiction, no one knew about this stuff yet.

    Ty Kimberly Miller

  • this med has made my life managable, i thank this drug, those who abuse it are the problem, not the company


      8 years ago


      • Dave Trumbull

        8 years ago

        Well spoken! I couldn’t work and function at all without them. I’m not into any high from them. I don’t get it, Because I’ve never gotten high or tried too! I cherish them soley for what they do to help me live a better life by giving me some pain relief. What they were designed to do! Don’t take them away from the millions that don’t abuse them!

        • Calder Munroe

          7 years ago

          I would say they would never take it away just do as they have been here in Canada and change how there time released. Or create other ways so they can not be abused. So far here in Canada they have ones that are no way possible to crush or disolve. Another that if I snif or try to inject will make you super sick. They have to be desolved your stomach acids in order to not make u sick. There was another way I think but can not think of right now.
          Ya for people who are continually prescribed them for rest of lives would not have any issue.
          It’s when Doctor feels u don’t need them anymore and u try to stop. Then the issue of dependence and addiction comes into effect.

    • Calder Munroe

      7 years ago

      The only problem that the company made was when they advertised it as non addictive or not able to cause dependace.

  • The woman “deb” above CLEARLY is delusional…. My brother is now a full blown heroin addict due to this horrible medication. Yea it helped his pain dramatically when an accident occurred. However due to it being highly addictive and Drs not prescribing it properly, he was a full blown addict and couldn’t live without it. When it took over his life he lost his job, his home, abandoned his children and had no money for it, found himself on the streets and took whatever the next best thing was HEROIN. And if you don’t know that these pills are just like heroin just more expensive you’ve been living under a rock. And this is a man who scolded me for smoking cigarettes and gave his children the world. Now steals from ANYONE to get a fix. So please do your research and see how many people suffer from this before you make your uneducated comments.

    • Calder Munroe

      7 years ago

      Yes you are totally correct. There are alot of people who were prescribed this medication. Then when doctor found it was time to start decreasing dosage to take person off them, and they finilly got to that point they were not able to cope without the medication. I understand the medication does good as fee commenters have said whcih is great it is when they take them away. Then u will understand what many people are talking about.
      Ya you are not realizing at moment because you are still prescribed them it’s when u are not, then the issue of dependence comes into play.
      That’s just what I think anyway.

  • Sheila, your a part of this problem. Pointing the finger at some one else. I am sorry your brother is an addict. My wife is a recovering addict herself, but nobody shoved those pills down their throats, they are responsible for their own self care. Delusional, is a harsh word to be throwing around when you can’t see past your own nose. Put the responsibility where it belongs….the person who made the decision to “abuse”, much like blaming guns for killing when it takes the hand of a murder to use it for such purpose. Wake up!

  • working in the trenches

    8 years ago

    the profession has known from the onset that you don’t treat pain with opioids. Do some research. It is all for profit and greed. I t was designed for terminal pt’s (oxycontin) but quickly marketed to primary care Dr.’s who would see the most pt’s and very short visits….perfect setting for ” quick pain fix”. Numerous healthy alternatives to treating long term pain with more efficacy than opiates. But there is a pill for everything right? Pretty sure I saw a commercial not long ago for medication that you can take if you are constipated from taking opiates…..has what a joke. Wake up medicated nation.

  • 600 million dollar settlement is a joke to a family worth over 15 billion, which we all know is conservative in its estimate. What price would we all agree Adolph Hitler should have paid for his actions. This is beyond a few cases of addiction , it led to the creation of a world wide epidemic and a slaughter of generations of innocent people .

  • miss independent

    6 years ago

    Look how old that man and woman are……. wonder if they realize the evil horrible things their drug has done to moms, dads, lawyers, teachers, doctors, nurses, students law enforcement etc……. take and ruined the lives of good people not to mention the ones that have died! Wonder what they will say when they meet God and wonder if all that money they have will travel with them when they go?

  • These people are responsible for human suffering, pain, and death.
    They must be made to pay the price.
    By ANY means necessary.

  • Chris Blau

    4 years ago

    MakinG A KILLING! Sick sick sick

    Just very evil Sociopaths think their Entitled to this Absurd wealth
    Beyond Criminal
    I put these Sick Clowns with Hitler Clinton Bush Drug Cabal
    Killing and destroying millions of families!!!
    Overburdened Emergency Rooms!
    Jails – Prisons- Crime- Police- DEA- Courts- lawyers- Rehabs-missed work- car accidents wrong way drivers-
    Costing Taxpayers 4.7 Trillion since 1995
    Will the Real Terrorist please stand up!
    Please stand up
    Real Terrorism out in plain View!!!
    This is the Reality shame shame shame!!
    Tentacles run everywhere
    People getting paid to look the other way!
    Butchers Murderers Sociopaths!
    Opp there it is
    Hard to Swallow
    Pill of Truth huh?
    You bet ta’s

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