What is Richard Sackler's Net Worth?
Richard Sackler is an American businessman and physician who has a net worth of $1 billion. The Sackler family at large is worth $14-15 billion. Richard Sackler is notorious for his involvement with his family's pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma. As president of the company, which produced the painkiller OxyContin, he contributed to the deadly ongoing opioid epidemic in the United States that has killed or harmed hundreds of thousands of people. In the wake of the scandal, Sackler, his family, and Purdue became the targets of numerous lawsuits and fines.
Early Life and Education
Richard Sackler was born on March 10, 1945 in Roslyn, New York to Beverly and Raymond. His father was a businessman and physician who acquired the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma with his brothers Arthur and Mortimer in 1952. For his higher education, Richard Sackler earned his BA degree from Columbia University; he went on to obtain his MD from the New York University School of Medicine.
In 1971, Sackler joined the family company Purdue Pharma, first working as an assistant to his father, who was the president. Soon, he became head of research and development as well as head of marketing. Sackler was integral in the development of the opiate OxyContin, managing to push the drug through FDA approval in 1995 on the false and untested claim that the drug was less addictive than other painkillers of its kind. This was despite the fact that the addictive nature of such opiates had been widely known for many decades.
In 1999, Sackler became the president of Purdue. He went on to continue promoting false and misleading claims about OxyContin, even enlisting company employees to advance bogus narratives that addiction to the drug was unrelated to anything in the drug itself. Moreover, to increase Purdue's profits, Sackler pushed pharmaceutical representatives to encourage doctors to prescribe overly high doses of the drug to patients. He became co-chairman of Purdue in 2003, and was placed in charge of the research department and its development of OxyContin. Sackler oversaw targeted marketing schemes that pushed sales of the drug to pharmacists, doctors, nurses, and academics.
In the 00s, Purdue emerged as one of the primary perpetrators of the deadly opioid epidemic in the United States. Many fines were issued for misleading the public about the addictiveness of OxyContin, and in 2007 the company paid out $600 million, one of the largest settlements ever reached for a US pharmaceutical firm. In 2015, Sackler was deposed by four lawyers in Louisville, Kentucky. Before the case went to trial, Purdue settled for $24 million while conceding zero liability and demanding the Kentucky prosecutors to destroy or return internal documents incriminating Purdue. In 2018, Sackler and Purdue were sued by the State of Massachusetts for misleading doctors and patients about the severe risks of OxyContin so they could boost their sales. The following year, Purdue filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York City.
Purdue reportedly reached a settlement worth around $8 billion in 2020, and acknowledged that it had intentionally conspired to push OxyContin without a legitimate medical purpose. Additionally, members of the Sackler family were ordered to pay $225 million. In early 2021, the US House of Representatives introduced a bill to prevent the bankruptcy judge from giving the Sacklers legal immunity during bankruptcy proceedings. Later in the year, Purdue earned approval of a plan to legally dissolve the company and restructure it into a public benefit corporation focused on repaying those affected by the opioid crisis.
In the Media
The Sackler family has been the subject of various films, television series, and books. In 2021 alone, the family was at the center of the two-party HBO documentary "The Crime of the Century," the book "Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty," and the Hulu miniseries "Dopesick," in which Richard Sackler is portrayed by Michael Stuhlbarg. The Sacklers also feature prominently in Laura Poitras's 2022 documentary film "All the Beauty and the Bloodshed," which follows New York photographer Nan Goldin and her advocacy group P.A.I.N. as they stage protests to hold the Sacklers accountable for their crimes.
Richard Sackler was previously married to his wife Beth, with whom he had three children named Rebecca, Marianna, and David. The pair established the Richard and Beth Sackler Foundation, one of many philanthropic attempts at reputation laundering.