Between 1999 and 2014, more than 165,000 Americans died from overdoses of OxyContin and other opioid painkillers. One in four people prescribed this class of drug on a long-term basis becomes an addict. Emergency rooms treat 1,000 opioid abuse cases a day. Se we are told by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s dangerous stuff. The opioid fentanyl killed the musician Prince.
Thanks in no small part to OxyContin, the heirs of Arthur Sackler were in 2015 named the 16th-richest family in America, ahead of the Rockefellers. Forbes put the clan’s net worth at $14bn. Its closely held company, Purdue Pharma, patented the drug — synthetic heroin in a time-release pill — and has been pushing it very aggressively since the mid-90s.