Developers of OxyContin Make Forbes List of Richest Families

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Developers of OxyContin Make Forbes List of Richest Families

The Sackler Family, owners of Purdue Pharma, is listed at number 16 on Forbs 2015 list of America’s Richest Families. Their net worth comes in around 14 billion.

Purdue Pharma was founded over 100 years ago by John Purdue Gray, but was bought by the Sackler family in 1952. The company began selling harmless products like earwax remover and laxatives, but later began developing prescription painkillers, specifically OxyContin. A majority of their sales, which is more than 3 billion annually, come from this drug.

The company developed OxyContin by taking Oxycodone, a generic painkiller, and recreating it with a time-release mechanism. This mechanism was supposed to spread the effects of the drug over a half-day period. Because of this, they were able to market it as non-addictive.

Since the drug was marketed as non-addictive, doctors began prescribing it left and right. It was supposed to be safe, a way around prescribing addictive medicines. However, people figured out that crushing the pills deactivated the time-release mechanism, converting it back into an addictive medication.

This drug led to millions of people addicted and countless overdose deaths. Purdue Pharma continues to battle lawsuits over false advertising, which they have pleaded guilty to in the past.