Hulu’s ‘Dopesick’ mixes elements of reality and fiction to bring the audience’s attention to one of the most pressing yet less talked about issues in modern-day America — the opioid addiction crisis. Based on Beth Macy’s novel ‘Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America,’ the series examines the role of Purdue Pharma’s drug, OxyContin, in triggering the opioid epidemic.
Purdue’s former President, Richard Sackler, is an essential character in the series. However, since the show’s narrative only spans till the mid-2000s, we are sure viewers must be wondering what happened to Sackler after various serious allegations were made against his company and family. Here’s everything you need to know in that regard!
What Happened to Richard Sackler?
In ‘Dopesick,’ actor Michael Stuhlbarg plays a fictionalized version of Richard Sackler, who served as Purdue Pharma’s head of research and development and head of marketing for numerous years. As seen in the show, Sackler is a billionaire businessman and physician who played an important role in the development of the drug OxyContin. In real life, Sackler graduated from New York University School of Medicine before beginning work as an assistant to his father at their family company, Purdue Pharma.
After the company developed and introduced OxyContin to the pharmaceutical market, Sackler rose to the position of President in 1999. Sackler stepped down from the position of President in 2003 but remained as Co-chairman of Purdue Pharma. In 2007, Purdue Pharma and three of its current and former executives pleaded guilty to charges of misbranding and reportedly paid $634 million in fines. However, his long-lasting association with Purdue Pharma has subjected the businessman to various lawsuits.
Where is Richard Sackler Now?
After stepping down from the role of President, Sackler remained involved with Purdue Pharma as a board member. In 2015, he was deposed by lawyers in a lawsuit filed by Kentucky State against the company and the Sacklers. However, before the case reached trial, a settlement agreement worth $24 million was reached. Three years later, the State of Massachusetts sued Purdue Pharma and the company’s various former and current directors, including Richard Sackler. The state alleged that the company and its directors misled doctors and patients about the effects of their opioid drug.
Since then, various other states have also filed lawsuits against Purdue and the Sackler family. Purdue Pharma filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2019. During a hearing of the bankruptcy in 2021, Sackler denied being involved in any wrongdoings. By 2019, most of the Sackler family members, including Richard Sackler, had stepped down from the company’s board. In September 2021, the US Bankruptcy Court approved the company’s bankruptcy restructuring. As a part of the settlement, the Sacklers will have immunity against any and all future civil litigation.
Sackler has three children — Rebecca, Marianna, and David — with his now ex-wife, Beth Sackler. The former Purdue President is now 76 years of age. Since 2013, Sackler has resided at a private property on the outskirts of Austin, Texas. He (along with the other Sackler family members) is also known to be a benefactor of various institutions such as the University of Connecticut, Greenwich Hospital, and Yale University, among many others.