The Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma


The Sackler family is an American and British family whose members are known for founding and owning the pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma.

The Sackler family are descendants of Isaac Sackler and his wife Sophie (née Greenberg), Jewish immigrants to the United States from what is now Ukraine and Poland, who established a grocery business in Brooklyn. The couple had three sons, Arthur (1913–1987), Mortimer (1916–2010) and Raymond (1920–2017) who each went to medical school and became psychiatrists. In 1952, the brothers bought a small pharmaceutical company, Purdue Fredericks, in Connecticut. Arthur, the oldest brother, became a pioneer in medical advertising. After his death in 1987, his option on one third of that company was sold by his estate to his two brothers

Their private company, now known as Purdue Pharma, introduced OxyContin in 1996, a version of oxycodone reformulated in a slow-release form. Heavily promoted, oxycodone became a key drug in the emergence of the opioid epidemic. Arthur Sackler’s daughter, Elizabeth, claimed that her branch of the family did not participate in or benefit from the sales of narcotics but rather pioneered the controversial direct-to-physician marketing methods that Purdue Pharma used.

Purdue Pharma, and by extension some members of the family, have faced criticism and lawsuits amid Purdue Pharma's role in the North American opioid crisis.

In 2018, several members of the Sackler familywere named as defendants in a suit filed by the state of Massachusetts over their involvement in the opioid crisis.


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