He was once dubbed a “reckless criminal” for his role in the opioid epidemic but you might be disappointed to know where Richard Sackler is now, because it doesn’t look like he’s been punished much.

Sackler joined Purdue Pharma in 1971 as an assistant to his father Raymond, who was president of the company at the time. The company was initially focused on developing and marketing slow-release pain medications, however, Richard played a significant role in the development and marketing of OxyContin, a potent and addictive prescription opioid which led to the deaths of more than half a million Americans.

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The family serves as inspiration for Netflix’s new series Painkiller, “a fictionalized retelling of events that explores some of the origins and aftermath of the opioid crisis in America, highlighting the stories of the perpetrators, victims, and truth-seekers whose lives are forever altered by the invention of OxyContin,” per the streamer. “An examination of crime, accountability, and the systems that have repeatedly failed hundreds of thousands of Americans, Painkiller is based on the book by Barry Meier of the same name and the New Yorker Magazine article The Family That Built an Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe.” Here’s what happened to Richard Sackler and where he is now.

Where is Richard Sackler now?

Where is Richard Sackler now? The former president and co-chairman of the board of directors of Purdue Pharma is living a quiet life out of the spotlight in a modest (comparatively) $1.7 million house in Boca Raton in Palm Beach County, Florida.

Painkiller. (L to R) John Rothman as Mortimer Sackler, Matthew Broderick as Richard Sackler, Sam Anderson as Raymond Sackler in Painkiller. Photo by Keri Anderson/Netflix © 2023

According to the Daily Mail, he’d sold his third luxury property in Beverly Hills worth $20 million, and while that seems like a lot, the Sackler family is still extraordinarily wealthy. Despite the $4.5 billion they were required to pay out thousands of lawsuits brought by state and local governments, tribes, hospitals and individuals to address a public health crisis that led to the deaths of more than 500,000 people nationwide.

The family is still estimated to be worth up to $15 billion and denied all wrongdoing and as Painkiller points out itself: “No member of the Sackler family has ever been criminally charged in connection with the marketing of OxyContin, or any overdose deaths involving the drug.”

In August 2021, Sackler made a rare public appearance testifying in federal bankruptcy court, per the New York Times. In a series of questions, a lawyer posed: “Do you have any responsibility for the opioid crisis in the United States?” “No,” Sackler replied softly. “Does the Sackler family have any responsibility for the opioid crisis in the United States?” Again, “No.” And finally: “Does Purdue Pharma have any responsibility for the opioid crisis in the United States?” He responded: “No.”

Sackler also said he did not know how many Americans had died from OxyContin. “You didn’t think it was necessary in your role as a chair or president of an opioid company to determine how many people had died as a result of the use of that product?” asked Brian Edmunds, a Maryland assistant attorney general. “To the best of my knowledge, recollection, that data is not available,” replied Sackler.

Who’s in the Painkiller cast?

In Broderick’s portrayal of him, Sackler “certainly doesn’t think that he’s the bad guy in the story of his life and one of the really interesting things about Matthew is that he’s just an incredibly nice and kind person, which he brings to playing a character who’s morally questionable,” executive producer Pete Berg told Netflix’s Tudum. “He’s found a whole other dimension to what could have been a somewhat one-note character.”

Taylor Kitsch in Painkiller. Keri Anderson/Netflix © 2023

Meanwhile, Taylor Kitsch plays a mechanic who, after getting injured on the job, is prescribed OxyContin, which traps him in a vicious cycle of addiction. “Man, it’s pretty close to me, this thing,” he told Tudum. “Unfortunately, I think we’re all one degree away from someone who’s an addict.” He continued: “I’m very lucky to have served a lot of true stories and heavy things. And this is right up there for me in the sense of purpose, of why I get to do what I do.” Here’s the full cast list for Netflix’s Painkiller.

  • Uzo Aduba as Edie
  • Matthew Broderick as Richard Sackler
  • Sam Anderson as Raymond Sackler
  • Taylor Kitsch as Glen Kryger
  • Carolina Bartczak as Lily Kryger
  • Tyler Ritter as John Brownlee
  • John Ales as Dr. Gregory Fitzgibbons
  • Ron Lea as Bill Havens
  • Ana Cruz Kayne as Brianna Ortiz
  • West Duchovny as Shannon Schaeffer
  • Jack Mulhern as Tyler Kryger
  • Dina Shihabi as Britt
  • John Rothman as Mortimer Sackler
  • John Murphy as Michael Friedman
  • Noah Harpster as Dr. Curtis Wright

Painkiller is available to stream on Netflix.

Pain Killer
 takes readers on a journey of discovery that begins with the true story of Lindsay, a high-school cheerleader in Virginia who gets hooked on Oxys and expands outward to explore the critical issues of legitimate pain management, prescription drug abuse, and how the misuse of science by the drug industry threatens the public good. With the fast-rising abuse of prescription drugs by young people ringing alarm bells within government, the how and why behind the OxyContin disaster is a gripping read not only for parents, but also for medical professionals, community leaders, business executives, and all those concerned with this crisis.

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