US & Canada

In numbers: Sackler family, Purdue Pharma and the US opioid crisis

Hand holding a bottle of OxyContin Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Sackler family owns Purdue Pharma, makers of OxyContin

The Sacklers have become one of the world's most controversial families.

They are the owners of Purdue Pharma, a pharmaceutical company that produces the opioid painkiller OxyContin.

As a result, the family has been accused of fuelling a deadly opioid crisis in the US that has killed more than 200,000 people in two decades.

Purdue and the Sacklers have denied allegations in lawsuits that they contributed to the opioid crisis, and have pointed to heroin and fentanyl as more significant culprits than prescription painkillers.

The family has also long been known for philanthropy, with museum wings, galleries and even escalators across the world named after them.

On Sunday Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy protection, as part of the company's efforts to deal with the thousands of lawsuits it is facing in connection with the opioid crisis.

Last week, the firm had reached a tentative deal to settle most of those lawsuits.

So who are the Sacklers, and what is the scale of the opioid crisis?

Three bottles of prescription opioid drug OxyContin
Reuters
US opioid deaths

  • 399,000deaths were linked to opioids between 1999 and 2017

  • 218,000of these deaths were linked to prescription opioids

  • 47,600people died of an opioids overdose in 2017

  • 192die from an opioid overdose every day

Source: US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, DrugAbuse.gov
A skeleton made out of OxyContin bottles, displayed at a protest in front of the White House
AFP
The scale of US addiction

  • 1.7 millionpeople addicted to prescription opioids in 2017

  • 80%of heroin users started by using prescription opioids

  • 191 millionopioid prescriptions were dispensed in 2017

  • $78.5 billion- the annual cost to the country of opioid addiction

Source: US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, DrugAbuse.gov
Getty Images
The Sackler family

  • $13 billion- the family's estimated wealth in 2016

  • $270 million- Purdue Pharma's settlement with the state of Oklahoma

  • 2,600states, local governments taking legal action against them

Source: Forbes, New York attorney general
The entrance to the Serpentine's Sackler Gallery in London
Getty Images
The Sackler name

Here are just some of the museums and galleries bearing the family's name.

  • £14.5 million- the cost of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, opened in 2013

  • £4 millionto Tate; Tate Modern's escalators are named after the family

  • £2 millionto build the Sackler Courtyard at the V&A museum in London

  • £1 millionplanned grant for National Portrait Gallery, later cancelled

  • $9.5 million(£7.6m) - to Met Museum's Sackler Wing in 1978, which is...

  • $36 million(£29m) in today's money

Source: NY Times, Guardian

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