Sackler, Arthur Sackler, Purdue Pharma discussed on Why Is This Happening? with Chris Hayes
Good faith and how much has sales job. This is something I'm I wrestle with to this day because part of the arsenal of techniques really devised by Arthur Sackler, but the others he was dead by the time ox coms introduced, but that others. Used to incredible affect Oxycontin was to create this sort of self licking ice cream cone phenomenon in which you pay a bunch of doctors to essentially give them a boondoggle to go down to Palm Beach and go to a conference at which and other doctor who is on your payroll. We'll give speech presenting research by a team of doctors who are also on your payroll about either pain or your drug, and I think there's no question that pain is an issue is real, and it should be treated the tricky thing with pretty pharma and some of the other companies owned by the Sackler, and this is true really read up to the present. I mean, just to very recent years even in the face of the opioid crisis is the when they're looking to expand internationally, which they've been doing since things kind of plateaued here, they'll go into a country and commission these studies. And so you'll see these studies come out that will say you wanna move you wanna go into Brazil? So the first thing you do is you Commissioner study that finds that forty percent of Brazilians are suffering from. Diagnosed chronic pain, you almost create the problems that that's not to say that you don't have a lot of Brazilians who legitimately have chronic behalf, chronic pain and should get some kind of treatment. But the cynicism with which the business interests, and the and the medical research have kind of intermingled, I think makes it very difficult to parse precisely the question you're asking so they had this drug that promises this benefit. And then they have a extremely savvy marketing operation that kind of comes at the entire medical stablishment sort of three hundred sixty degrees, right? What is the result of those two combined forces? Of you know, reportedly thirty five billion dollars in sales. So they sell a lot of Oxycontin. And it's interesting because the the Sackler family and proof arm, and now will say, oh, you know, we only ever had a small amount of market share look at all these other opioids on the market, but the truth is the conditions precedent. That allowed all of these other companies to thrive and selling opioids been what what started this off was. And there's a paper trail for this. Now that's come out, and litigation was people at Purdue pharma and specific members of the Sackler families saying we really got to change the minds of doctors. Let's be strategic about this. Let's just resource it like crazy. Let's in an army of sales reps out there. Let's commission this research. Let's change people's minds and make it, okay? To prescribe strong. Opioids. You just mentioned litigation. So you wrote this piece back in two thousand seventeen and it was kind of the first treatment. I think that sort of put two and two together of here's his family, the Sackler 's here's this company Purdue pharma, and here's what the role they played in popularizing. The prescription of opioid particularly cotton like these things are linked. But since you wrote that there's a huge new raft of documentary evidence. What is it? What's the litigation and what have we learned now? Yeah. I mean, I should say to give credit words do there were a couple of landmark pieces of work. So Barry Meyer on your time. Reporter now former New York Times reporter wrote about Oxycontin, and this actors for the time he wrote a book called painkiller that came out. Let me fifteen years ago really early on and Sam can Yoenis wrote this book dreamland, which which which I'm sure you've read, but the that's been wanting to get him on the party great book, but the treatment in both of those books, they both talk about the family, but both of those books take a kind of multi-strain. Approach to the story in which you have doctors and addicts and in Kenya's case, you know, street level drug dealers, and the Sackler are one of those strands, and what I wanted to do in the New Yorker to me, the story was the Sackler was I wanted to tell the story of of this family and have them kind of front and center, and I wrote a piece that was a long piece, I think to this day more people read that piece in anything I've ever written for the New Yorker. But interestingly the aspects when I was working on it that we're kind of black box to me. So. They're so little information about the interaction between the family members, and this company that they own and after the piece came out there were already many many lawsuits against Purdue. But you started seeing these new lawsuits against naming the sack individual Sackler 's and one of the most by the attorney general and Massachusetts more Healy, turning general Massachusetts as part of this suit got access to a million pages of internal documents and memoranda and in God, it was January released this stonning court filing this big complaint quoting chapter in verse all these internally mails from Richard sokoll from Jonathan's alad from all these members of the family in which you see them talking about the desire to get the drug out there and have it be a huge success and change doctors minds in which you see them really early on hearing from their own sales reps. God we're having. We're hearing about addiction we're here. But people. Abusing this drug, and they kind of pooh-poohed it and say, these are, you know, these drug addicts, you know, they're not legitimate pain. Patients were out here to look out for the you know, there's no sense on their part of a moment of real alarm, or you know, maybe we should slow down with the marketing here. There's also a suit by the attorney general in New York, which is produced a huge raft of amazing documentation. It's been fascinating for me as somebody who was trying to kind of get a glimmer of the internal dynamics of the family and the company, but I I don't have subpoena power. Right. So there's only so far can go as reporter to see these documents that are going to turn out. I mean, there's something just so wild about the situation, which is that we've pursued this war on drugs for forty years. We have not fundamentally altered despite the millions of people have been sent to prison the billions, and tens of billions of dollars. That's been spent not fundamentally altered the rate of drug addiction in the society. It's essentially in stable, right? We now. Have drug overdoses going up this insane alarming rate, so high in fact, it's contributing to a decline in life expectancy for three years in a row, which is on precedents. Roar one and then sitting atop this, right? Like, there's the image. I grew up with of the drug dealer. The scary drug dealer coded as black inner-city young man crack, right? And that's like the bad guy. That's the cops have to get the evil and nefarious figures like Kate come here like of the peak drug war propaganda, the nineteen eighties. And here's this family that fucking paid for the temple ender. Right. Until very recently. We're getting feted at every opportunity who were basically dealing drugs to all of America. Right. I mean, just when you think about the coding of that like racially and socially, and who what's a crime. And what isn't and who gets criminally accountable who goes to jail, and then you watch John bainer retire as house speaker and go work for the fricking marijuana lobby because like now, it's like, okay. Well, now marijuana's fine. And now like a bunch of white wealthy. People are going to be able to deal marijuana legally. And this is the way it works. I mean, and you know, I mean Eric Holder in private practice worked for proof Armagh Rudy Giuliani worked for Purdue pharma, they today or hiring every white shoe law firm imaginable, and probably it's interesting. There's all these suits against Purdue. And one of the things that the New York lawsuit discovered is that for years now quietly the Sackler have been pulling money out of the company. And moving it offshore and putting it in obscure places. So fascinating the day may come where Purdue ceases to exist. But the Sackler is are are just fine one final question. There's one particular part of that filing that really stuck with me, which was that they describe something they call the pain funnel, and they're they wanna get into addiction treatment. Yeah. So it's like you talked about like a selfless ice cream cone. So it's a sing where it's like. Okay. We'll people have pain we prescribe opioids a certain percentage of those people get addicted and at the bottom, there's a diction treatment. Maybe we can get into the addiction treatment game too. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's look I think the tricky thing for me though, right? Is this is this is capitalism? In essence, totally the incentive the incentives are cells, much Oxycontin. It's possible. Yeah. Yeah. I mean in in the case of the Sackler 's it is coming back to get them. There's some social shaming. That's happening there a bunch of museums. Just in recent weeks have said for the first time, you know, we're not gonna take anymore. Your money, but the name I think is going to stay on all the places that already is those are binding contracts. I think it's unlikely you'll see those names removed. And so there is a strange sense in which it kinda worked, right? I mean, the legacy of that name will it'll still be there on the building. Well, it depends on what you have to say about it going forward. You're running a book on this. Right. Is that? Yeah. It's gonna be pretty interesting. All right. When the books out, we'll have you back on the podcast. I love that. All right, petrograd and kief staffer under the New Yorker, his new book is say nothing about the troubles in Ireland in one specific case, we spoke about that. You can check out that conversation, which is fascinating. He also wrote the family that built an empire pain for the New Yorker back in October twenty seventeen and is now writing a new book on opioids and sacrifice. Patrick. Thank you. Thank you. Once again, thanks to patch. Kief particularly thanks for staying extra-long. We get them in the studio for a while. If you're just listening to this episode and having listened to the first with him the ghosts of dirty war about his book say nothing, you should absolutely check that out. It's an incredible conversation and incredible book, we love to hear your feedbacks into us with pottage, Email dot com. Printed us with the hashtag with pod wise happenings, presented by MSNBC NBC news produced by the all in team and features music by Cooper, see more of our work, including links to things we mentioned here like on NBC, news dot com slash wise is happening. Hi, it's Stephanie rule. If you low them NBC where your heart on your sleeve gear up with t shirts. Hoodies hats and more from Belgian rule and all of your favourite MSNBC shows at MSNBC store dot com.