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Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the…

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty (original 2021; edition 2021)

by Patrick Radden Keefe (Author)

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3502558,014 (4.55)16
Title:Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty
Authors:Patrick Radden Keefe (Author)
Info:Doubleday (2021), 560 pages
Collections:Your library

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Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe (2021)

  1. 00
    Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic by Sam Quinones (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: Dreamland is mentioned as an inspiration for Keefe. It covers much ground not in Empire, beyond the Sacklers, and is equally as good.

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» See also 16 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Greed, arrogance, cluelessness, egomania, sociopathy, and much more. All in one family, whose agressive construction and inflation of their OxyContin "empire" caused grief, suffering, death, and destruction that is impossible to quanify. Their self-righteousness and the fact that they got away with it every step of the way (with the complicity of the US govenment and court system) will sicken reacers. The immoral depths of the behavior of this family know no bounds and their history is well-chronicled and meticulously documented by Patrick Radden Keefe. ( )
  Octavia78 | Nov 28, 2021 |
Wish I could give it more stars. ( )
  sblock | Nov 1, 2021 |
As someone whose family was ravaged by drug addiction, reading this meticulously researched look about a dynasty that ruthlessly operated what could be considered a legalized drug cartel was excruciating, infuriating and ultimately enlightening. One source suggests that the Sackler family presided over "a rising tide of misery and death," ushering in a truly tragic chapter in the annals of corporate greed. Based on the stunning facts presented in Keefe's work, this assertion doesn't appear to be an overstatement. True, the book takes its time getting to the opioid crisis. However, the family's detailed backstory is critical to understanding this despicable saga. "Empire of Pain" sheds light on the pharmaceutical and advertising industries, chronicling a heartbreaking saga that has impacted so many people. ( )
  brianinbuffalo | Oct 31, 2021 |
Fascinating and appalling history of one family's contribution ution to the current narcotic epidemic. Their legal machinations are particularly heinous.
A generally excellent audiobook, marred only by the occasional non-preferred pronunciation (ad JUT ant) and unexpected pauses before (usually) dependent clauses at sentencing e ends. ( )
  moekane | Oct 29, 2021 |
Being a chronic pain sufferer, my emotions during this read went from anger, to sadness to just plain stupefied. I read everything that I can on the drug/overdose/addiction crisis. I had a feeling that [a: Keefe|197852|Patrick Radden Keefe|https://images.gr-assets.com/authors/1538163619p2/197852.jpg] would lay it all out there. I admit, I was surprised, as I dug in, that the book is a centralized story of 3 generations of a family who duped, not only the average joe, but the FDA, scores of doctors, and a host of lobbyists and politicos.

The dynasty of the Sackler's begins with 3 brothers, rising up from their immigrant parents. Arthur, being the eldest, led this trio. So many people say that Arthur should not have any of the blame for the opioid crisis. But following the history back to the 1960's, when Arthur was alive,
the truth is there. Arthur's insolence and greediness was passed on from generation to generation, along with his lack of duty to be truthful with the public. He began the advertising campaigns, for antibiotics, that falsely claimed physician endorsements, and claims of clinical trials that never happened. Through 3 generations, these tactics never changed and were used to market OxyContin. All that mattered to them was the bottom line, and how much money would flow to them through the trust funds that were pocketing the profits. All the while, never revealing or connecting the Sackler name to Purdue, the manufacturer of the drug. Everyone knew the Sacklers were billionaires, but no one knew where the money came from.

The Sackler empire is a completely integrated operation. They could develop a drug, have it clinically tested, secure favorable reports from doctors and hospitals with which they had connections, devise an advertising campaign in their agency , publish the clinical articles and the ​advertisements in their own medical journal, and use their public-relations muscle to place articles in newspaper and magazines.

If you worked for Purdue, you were expected to support and shield the family name. Doing these 2 things gave you a job for life. The culture of the work place reminded me of a cult. So many employees knew what the Sackler's were doing was wrong. It floors me that no one became a whistle blower. There are many who still say "The Sacklers and Purdue are separate things. The family did nothing wrong." Don't believe this. The Sacklers with as many as 8 or 9 family on the Board of Directors were Purdue. They made the decision to market OxyContin, which by the way was the only drug they made, as not being addictive. When they finally caved a bit, they altered the pill to have a coating on it. The coating would, supposedly, stop people from dissolving the pills to get more of the OxyContin into their system, at a quicker rate. The Sackler's did not re-fashion the drug to aid in the crisis. They reformulated it so they could extend the patent on the drug. Thus, stopping any competitors from making a generic. As I said, all they cared about was the money.

As I mentioned above, I suffer from chronic pain. Oxycontin was one of the first drugs my doctors put me on. Fortunately, for me, it did not work.
But when the opioid crisis hit the headlines, I was still on it. I will admit, I was one of those people frightened that my pain pills would be taken away. I am one of the lucky ones, I suppose, as with all the different medications I have been on, I have never had to be weaned off of anything. I can simply stop. As I said, I am one of the lucky ones.

This book was well written, and explosive. I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in how the crisis began. ( )
  JBroda | Sep 24, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Put simply, this book will make your blood boil ... The broad contours of this story are well known...But what would normally be a weakness becomes a strength because Keefe is blessed with great timing. In the past few years, numerous lawsuits filed against Purdue by state attorneys general, cities and counties have finally cracked open the Sacklers’ dome of secrecy....While other accounts of the opioid crisis have tended to focus on the victims, Empire of Pain stays tightly focused on the perpetrators....the trove of documents that has since come to light through the multidistrict litigation, which Keefe weaves into a highly readable and disturbing narrative, shatters any illusion that the Sacklers were in the dark about what was going on at the company.
This story is much bigger than the Sacklers indeed. Without government regulators all too willing to cave to corporate interests, or an industry norm of putting profits ahead of patient health and safety, the Sacklers never would have gotten this far....Keefe’s book is ultimately an important record of private greed facilitated by a corrupted government. The book’s conclusion is somewhat open-ended.... But one thing that’s certain after reading Keefe’s book is that between an ever-growing death toll from overdose deaths and a generation of pain patients left to fend for themselves, much more than lawsuits and money is needed to get America out of this painful nightmare.
Empire of Pain, Keefe explains in his afterword, is a dynastic saga. Like Purdue, it is all about the Sackler family: how it transformed American medicine, the key role it played in the opioid crisis that now costs tens of thousands of Americans their lives every year, and the family’s belated and incomplete downfall.... Keefe has a knack for crafting lucid, readable descriptions of the sort of arcane business arrangements the Sacklers favored. He is also indefatigable.
added by Lemeritus | editSlate, Laura Miller (Apr 15, 2021)
Keefe nimbly guides us through the thicket of family intrigues and betrayals ... Even when detailing the most sordid episodes, Keefe’s narrative voice is calm and admirably restrained, allowing his prodigious reporting to speak for itself. His portrait of the family is all the more damning for its stark lucidity. Amid all the venality and hypocrisy, one of the terrible ironies that emerges from Empire of Pain is how the Sacklers would privately rage about the poor impulse control of 'abusers' while remaining blind to their own.
added by Lemeritus | editNew York Times, Jennifer Szalai (pay site) (Apr 14, 2021)
Richly researched account of the Sackler pharmaceutical dynasty, agents of the opioid-addiction epidemic that plagues us today.... A definitive, damning, urgent tale of overweening avarice at tremendous cost to society.
added by Lemeritus | editKirkus Reviews (Apr 13, 2021)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patrick Radden Keefeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gil, RicardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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We have often sneered at the superstition and cowardice of the mediaeval barons whose thought that giving lands to the Church would wipe out the memory of their raids or robberies; but modern capitalists seem to have exactly the same notion; with this not unimportant addition, that in the case of the capitalists the memory of the robberies is really wiped out. -G.K. Chesterton (1909)
Doctor, please, some more of these. -Rolling Stones (1966)
For Beatrice and Tristam
And for all those who have lost someone to the crisis
First words
The New York headquarters of the international law firm Debevoise & Plimpton occupy ten floors of a cleek black office tower that stands in a grove of skyscrapers in midtown Manhattan. -Prologue, The Taproot
Arthur Sackler was born in Brooklyn, in the summer of 1913, at a moment when Brooklyn was burgeoning with wave upon wave of immigrants from the Old World, new faces every day, the unfamiliar music of new tongues on the street corners, new buildings going up left and right to house and employ these new arrivals, and everywhere this giddy, bounding sense of become. -Chapter 1, A Good Name
One afternoon as I was writing this book, in the summer of 2020, I left the house with my wife and children to run an errand. - Afterword
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