Richard Sackler From Netflix's ‘Painkiller’ Is Still Worth $1 Billion (2024)


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The new Netflix limited series Painkiller explores the story behind the U.S. opioid epidemic, looking at how the prescription drug OxyContin was originally produced and how it became so popular.

It also dives into how Richard Sackler, a doctor and president of Purdue Pharma (OxyContin's manufacturer), was reportedly aware of the prescription medication's highly addictive nature—and produced the drug anyway.

On the show, Matthew Broderick plays the role of Sackler. Unlike the character of Edie Flowers, Shannon Schaeffer, or Glen Kryger, Sackler is an actual, real person.

So, who is Richard Sackler, and where is he now? Here’s what you need to know.

Who are the Sackler family?

The Sacklers are the owners of Purdue Pharma, a pharmaceutical company whose main drug is Oxycontin, an opioid, per Forbes. Almost all 50 states have filed lawsuits against Purdue and Sackler family members for their alleged roles in the opioid crisis.

What type of doctor is Richard Sackler?

Richard Sackler is an M.D.—he earned his degree from the New York University School of Medicine, according to the Yale School of Medicine, where Sackler and his family later became donors. Sackler got his B.A. from Columbia College and completed a residency in internal medicine at Hartford Hospital.

What did Richard Sackler do?

Sackler began working for Purdue as assistant to the president in 1971, according to Stat News. He was named president in 1999 and then became co-chairman of the board in 2003.

During his time at Purdue, he oversaw the research department that developed OxyContin and managed the sales and marketing unit. Sackler's name appears on several company patents, per Stat News.

As Painkiller explains, Richard’s role in the opioid crisis was investigated by a team of lawyers, like real-life US Attorney John Brownlee and composite character Edie Flowers. They alleged that Sackler and other officials at Purdue Pharma were aware of Oxycontin’s highly addictive nature, but produced and marketed the drug anyway.

Richard Sackler From Netflix's ‘Painkiller’ Is Still Worth $1 Billion (1)

How old is Richard Sackler?

Sackler turned 78 in March this year, according to Esquire UK.

How much did the Sackler family pay to settle OxyContin lawsuits?

The end of Painkiller dives into the the $6 billion payout that the Sacklers have been compelled by a three-judge panel to give up to protect themselves against future civil lawsuits related to the sale of OxyContin, per Esquire UK. Three billion of the settlement was supposed to come from the family’s own fortune. At least $750 million was planned go to victims of the opioid crisis and their families.

The money will be used to help alleviate the drug crisis that has led to nearly 500,000 U.S. opioid overdose deaths over two decades.

Did the Sackler family get immunity?

The Sackler family said in a statement that they "sincerely regret" that OxyContin "unexpectedly became part of an opioid crisis." The statement continued to say that the Sackler family acted lawfully, but a settlement was the best way to help resolve a "serious and complex public health crisis."

The deal was announced after weeks of mediation with the Sackler family. As the series points out, Richard and his other family members have not been criminally charged with how they handled Oxycontin.

The Supreme Court just blocked the $6 billion settlement that would have given the Sackler family immunity.

On August 10, 2023, the Supreme Court blocked Purdue Pharma from going forward with bankruptcy proceedings, per CNN. The Biden administration had called the deal “unprecedented” arrangement that would have offered the Sackler family broad protection from opioid-related civil claims.

The court also said it would take up the case and hear arguments this December.

Does Richard Sackler still work for Purdue Pharma?

No. Purdue Pharma has been dissolved, and the company remains in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, per NetflixLife. Purdue Pharma announced in 2021 that it would rebrand itself as Knoa Pharma, The New York Times reports. Today, it's overseen by a public board.

Richard Sackler From Netflix's ‘Painkiller’ Is Still Worth $1 Billion (2)

What happened to Jonathan Sackler?

Jonathan Sackler was the son of Raymond Sackler, one of the brothers who bought drug company Purdue Frederick in 1952, according to The New York Post. Jonathan served as an executive and board member for the company that was later renamed Purdue Pharma.

Like other members of the Sackler family, he stepped off the board of Purdue after the OxyContin scandal came to light, per the Post.

On June 30, 2020, Jonathan died of cancer, according to a court filing. He was 65.

What is Richard Sackler's net worth?

Richard’s net worth is estimated to be $1 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Richard Sackler From Netflix's ‘Painkiller’ Is Still Worth $1 Billion (3)

How much is the Sackler family still worth?

Even after Purdue Pharma's bankruptcy, the family still has billions. In December 2020, taking into account the fines that the Sacklers have already paid out as settlements, Forbes estimates that the family (around 40 members) is worth about $10.8 billion.

Where is Dr. Richard Sackler now?

According to Esquire, Richard now lives in a $1.7 million house in Boca Raton, Florida.

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Richard Sackler From Netflix's ‘Painkiller’ Is Still Worth $1 Billion (2024)
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