Daily: PRESCRIPTION FOR DISASTER – The drug dynasty behind America’s opioid crisis

The vastly wealthy Sackler family are known as respectable patrons of the arts, but the story behind their philanthropy is a dark one. The Sacklers made their billions from OxyContin or “Hillbilly Heroin”, the $35m prescription drug that precipitated America’s opioid crisis – an epidemic that has killed half a million people.

Patrick Radden Keefe, author of Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, tells Ros Taylor about the corruption and influence that turned a deadly addictive drug into a medical staple, how the Sacklers insulated themselves from what they’d done, and how racism in medicine – surprisingly – spared many African Americans while devastating poor whites.

• “The truth has caught up with the Sacklers. I don’t know that justice ever will.”

• “This story is a slow-moving disaster. It took a quarter of a century to get to a quarter of a million deaths.” 

• “Many people hooked on OxyContin just switched to heroin when they reformulated it in 2010.” 

• “The question is, What did the Sacklers know about the harm OxyContin caused? And evidence shows that they DID know.” 

Presented by Ros Taylor. Produced by Andrew Harrison. Assistant producers Jelena Sofronijevic and Jacob Archbold. Music by Kenny Dickinson. Audio production by Alex Rees. THE BUNKER is a Podmasters Production


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