The OxySacklers: Making Money - the Wrong Way

Published 11 Dec 2023
Reference 6849
Region North America
Length 11 page(s)
Language English

The Sackler family and their 100%-owned company, Purdue Pharma, produced OxyContin pills by the millions, amassing a vast family fortune in the process. Those painkillers were responsible for a devastating opioid epidemic in the United States. For a business family, the “Oxy-Sacklers” are distinguished by their greed and lack of moral compass. Their donations to cultural, academic and medical institutions (mainly in the US and the UK) named after the family, sparked controversy about the role of corporate philanthropy worldwide.

Teaching objectives

The case – a compelling read that students can’t put down – covers a number of issues. First, it shows how a family name – traditionally seen as an asset and as the glue that holds the company together – can be tainted. Second, it shows what can happen when the profit motive is the sole driving force of a business. Unconcerned about how they were making the money, the people running Purdue Pharma preferred to ignore the growing number of deaths from OxyContin addiction. Third, their philanthropic efforts were brought into disrepute. The controversy prompted a reset in philanthropic attitudes, in favour of building more balanced donor-recipient relationships where positive actions are driven by a shared long-term vision.

  • Sacklers
  • OxyContin
  • MS Contin
  • opioid
  • opium
  • epidemic
  • Purdue Pharma
  • Purdue Frederick
  • overdose
  • pain relief
  • Arthur Sackler
  • Nan Goldin
  • fentanyl
  • lawsuits
  • Good Health & Well-Being
  • Responsible Consumption and Production
  • Q42023