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Richard Sackler From 'Dopesick' Is Based On A Real Person. Richard is a fictional character who appears in.Dopseck

Richard Sackler From 'Dopesick' Is Based On A Real Person. Richard is a fictional character who appears in.Dopseck

Hulu's new limited series Dopesick takes a trip to the heart of America'' opiate epidemic, tracing its roots in the early 90s and their rise throughout the next decade. Purdue Pharma, the family-run firm that makes OxyContin, and its chairman Richard Sackler, played by Michael Stuhlbarg, are at the center of it all. I think I can make this the world's biggest drug, he says ominously in the trailer for the show.

Dopesick is based on Beth Macys 2018 investigative novel of the same name, which takes a critical look at Purdue Pharma stance on the opioid epidemic. OxyContin was introduced in 1995 by the firm, aggressively marketing the drug and continually minimizing its addictiveness. In reality, OxiContin is now one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs in the country, and more than 500,000 Americans have died from prescription and illegal opioid overdoses.

In the subsequent decades, Purdue Pharma has lost more than 3,000 lawsuits against the Sacklers, who have denied wrongdoing and claim they have always operated ethically and legally. In a bankruptcy settlement, the business was dissolved in September 2021, largely because of fewer opioid-related liabilities. The Sacklers will remain among the nation's richest families.

Purdue was founded by John Purpurdu & George Frederick Bingham, doctors who were married in 1892, according to Forbes. In 1952, the Sackler brothers Raymond, Mortimer, and Arthur purchased it. In the 90s, they entered the field of pain management, selling earwax remover, laxatives and antiseptics but then expanded into the industry. Richard Sackler, the son of Raymond, had joined the firm in 1971 as an assistant to his father, then Purdues president, as a fellow student. He later became the head of research and development and head on marketing, as well as the director of the OxyContin research team.

Sackler played a major part in the marketing of OxyContin, described by the New Yorker as an enigmatic, slightly awkward man who had trained as dr. He told colleagues he was determined to make the drug a success and that launching it with one of the largest pharmaceutical marketing campaigns in history was his goal. OxyContin's potential to be misused was one of the biggest concerns raised by Purdue focus groups, according to the New Yorker. But doctors began to argue that this was a medical myth and that opioids could be used long-term with little side effects in the years prior to their 1995 approval by the FDA. Russell Portenoy, a pain specialist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center who received funding from Purdue, was one of these doctors.

Though Purdue did not undertake any clinical trials on OxyContin's addictiveness, the FDA approved a package insert stating that the drug was safer than rival painkillers because of its time-release properties. Dr. Curtis Wright, the FDA examiner who oversaw the process, left the agency shortly after the decision and later took a job at Purdue University.

OxyContin was generating a billion dollars yearly by 2000. Reports that the drug was being misused emerged almost immediately after its release and continued to rise so much so that in 2001, the Connecticut attorney general wrote directly to Sackler urging him to completely overhaul and reform Purdues marketing of OxyContin. Purdue didn't stop producing the drug or acknowledge its addictive potential. Instead, the business claimed that the problem stemmed from recreational drug users not taking OxyContin as instructed and that it was a matter of individual responsibility.

Though Purdue's executive vice president testified that their marketing of OxyContin was conservative by any standard, the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2003 concluded that Purues aggressive methods had very much exacerbated OxiContin' widespread abuse and concluded the drugmaker had "deliberately minimized the risks. Purdue continued to refuse any liability. When Sackler later gave a deposition for one of the many lawsuits brought against Purdue, the lead attorney on the case described him to the New Yorker as having, a smirk and... an absolute lack of remorse.

Sackler, who became Purdues president in 1999, left the position in 2003, but he remained a co-chairman of the company board. He spent several years as an adjunct professor of genetics at New Yorks Rockefeller University before moving to Austin, Texas in 2013.

Beth Sackler (Andrea Frankle) and Kathe SACKLER (Jamie Ray Newman) are played by Dopesick as Sicklers cousins. It was Beths father Arthur who developed the advertising model through which OxyContin was sold, while Kathe Sackler, the daughter of Mortimer, later stated that her family had nothing to apologize for and that she felt that OxiContin merited her due.

Per Stat News, the Sackler family has generally avoided public discussion of OxyContin or their role in the drug's dissemination. Richard Sackler, now 76, or his family are not mentioned on the Purdue website, and he rarely speaks or is photographed.

Call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357) if you or someone you know is seeking help for substance use.

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