The Sacklers engaged in an intergenerational, half-century program of drug-pushing; starting by creating the market for benzos and culminating in creating the opioid epidemic. They made a vast fortune off the misery they created and today they're richer than the Rockefellers.


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The family drug company, Purdue Pharma, created the addictive, destructive opioid Oxycontin, then systematically lied to the public about its safety, while bribing doctors and pharma distributors to overprescribe it, leading to over 850,000 US opioid deaths.


The family used philanthropy to ensure its name was associated with galleries and museums rather than mass murder and had their lawyers threaten their critics (like me) and when that stopped working, they stashed billions offshore.


The Sacklers' deliberate campaign of mass killing made them billions, but it cost the rest of us far more, both in human lives and in the cash-money costs for local governments and states coping with the opioid epidemic. Many of their victims sued for compensation.

The Sacklers aren't mere world-class drug-dealers and reputation launderers, they've mastered the dark art of capturing judges.


They owe their long, profitable career as pushers to their ability to get a court to suppress Richard Sackler's testimony.

As the compensation claims poured in, the Sacklers used their judicial connivance to push all their personal liability into Purdue Pharma's corporate liability, and then declared the company bankrupt:


This would nonconsensually settle all claims - personal and governmental - against the Sacklers. It's a bold move, one that few judges in America would agree to. Lucky for the Sacklers, they know how to abuse the system to go judge-shopping:


The name of the game is Judge Robert Drain, America's most billionaire-friendly bankruptcy judge, who has a long history of letting wealthy criminals declare bankruptcy, discharge their obligations, and walk away with billions.


Getting their case in front of Drain in the Southern District of New York involved some obvious chicanery, like putting a bogus Westchester County address in the machine-readable metadata in their court filings - a White Plains, NY office that the company never used.

The Sacklers' gambit worked. Their case is going before Judge Drain on Aug 9 and the smart money says Drain will permit the settlement, overriding state AGs' objections.


The Sacklers will keep billions. They will not have to admit to any culpability in the deaths they profited from. They won't even have to apologize. States, cities and individual victims will get pennies on the dollars for their claims.

It's true that a settlement will get some money (a mere fraction of the Sacklers' blood-fortune) into the hands of people and governments that desperately need it, but at the cost of any accountability. No Sackler will go to jail. No Sackler will go broke.


We tend to think of the opioid epidemic as a symptom of economic malaise, but there's strong evidence that opioid addiction was the result of the Sacklers' incredible, innovative frauds and not wider socioeconomic conditions.

Writing in Vox EU, David M. Cutler and Edward Glaeser show that there is no correlation between the opioid epidemic and either a rise in physical pain or emotional distress.


Between 1999 and 2009 - when opioid use was spiking - there was no significant rise in Americans reporting two or more painful conditions; what's more, Americans' reported life-satisfaction did not change significantly during those years.

The major change that explains the rise of opioids? The release of the Sacklers' Oxycontin, and their fraudulent claims about its safety, and their extensive campaign to bribe or trick doctors into prescribing opioids.


This tracks with the history of opioid addiction overall: the spikes in opioid troubles *always* correlate to technological breakthrough, like 1897's heroin, a "safe" opium alternative, or 1904's morphine, sold as a nonaddictive alternative to heroin.

Heroin and morphine went through the same cycle as oxy - sold as a safe alternative to existing painkillers, vastly overprescribed, and then revealed to be every bit as dangerous - or worse - than the products they replaced.


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