Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Feeling The Pain -- Purdue Pharma -- March 6, 2019

Yesterday I mentioned Purdue Pharma -- preparing to file for bankruptcy protection. I wrote about the OxyContin company some time ago, October 30, 2017.
Purdue Pharma bankruptcy: the company behind OxyContin is preparing a bankruptcy filing as it seeks to limit its liabilities from hundreds of lawsuits; I think I've blogged about Purdue before;
Where The Boys Are
One article in this week's issue is worth the price of an annual subscription (if one can get past all the TDS but I cannot): "The Empire of Pain," by a reporter-at-large, Patrick Radden Keefe (he may want to "watch his back" and/or apply for membership in the Federal Witness Protection Program.

The article article is about OxyContin. From the article:
OxyContin's sole active ingredient is oxycodone, a chemical cousin of heroin which is up to twice as powerful as morphine. 
Who makes OxyContin?
Purdue Pharmacy -- a privately held company, based in Stamford, CT, that developed the prescription painkiller OxyContin. Upon its release, in 1995, OxyContin was hailed as a medical breakthrough, a long-lasting narcotic that could help patients suffering from moderate to sever pain. The drug became a blockbuster, and has reportedly generated some thirty-five billion dollars in revenue for Purdue.
1995 - 2015: 20 years.

Now the back story, involving three Brooklyn brothers, all physicians -- Arthur, Mortimer, and Raymond. All three have died (1987, 2010, and 2017, respectively). The family is one of America's richest families, with a collective net worth of thirteen billion dollars -- more than the Rockefellers or the Mellons.

From the article:
During the sixties, Arthur got rich marketing the tranquilizers Librium and Valium.

In 1952, the brothers bought a small patent-medicine company, Purdue Frederick, which was based in Greenwich Village and made such unglamorous staples as laxatives and earwax remover.

After Arthur's death, the two surviving brothers wanted to buy his stake in the company. The company, which had moved to Connecticut would eventually change its name to Purdue Pharma, had made a great deal of money under their stewardship. But such riches were about to seem paltry. By the time the brothers made their bid, Purdue was already developing a new drug: OxyContin.
That takes up up to page three (four if you count the full-page graphic) of the 16-page article (if you count the full-page graphic) and we haven't even touched on the last name of the brothers.


As in:
  • the Sackler Gallery, Washington, DC
  • the Sackler Museum, Harvard University, Boston
  • the Sackler Center for Arts Edcation, at the Guggenheim, NYC
  • the Sackler Wing at the Louvre, Paris
  • the Sackler institutes and facilities at Columbia, Oxford, and a dozen other universities
  • endowed professorships and underwritten medical research
  • Arthur's daughter Elizabeth is on the board of the Brooklyn Museum; where she endowed the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
  • endowed a professorship at Yale Cancer Center
  • Mortimer's third wife Theresa Rowling, founded Beespace, a non-rofit "incubator" that supports organizations like the Malala Fund (it takes forever to download but while you are waiting you can click on the "DONATE" button)
  • the number of rooms in different parts of the world named after the Sacklers is countless
The brothers:
  • all three attended medical school
  • all worked together at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens
  • collectively published some 150 scholarly papers
  • particularly interested in the biological aspects of psychiatric disorders, and in pharmaceutical alternatives to mid-century methods such as electroshock therapy and psychoanalysis
  • made their fortune in commerce (mostly marketing and advertising) and not by practicing medicine
Fascinating article.

And it looks like Congress and the states attorneys general need to go -- but they won't.

No comments:

Post a Comment