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Book Spotlight - Morning Book Club

17 Mar 2024 2:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Morning Book Club Book Spotlight

Morning book club meets the second Tuesday of each month at 10:00 a.m.

This bookclub meets at 10am at the Highland Park Library, 1974 Ford Parkway. The next book is A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan’s Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them, by Timothy Eagan. 

Book Spotlight 

On February 14 the AM Book Club discussed Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, by Patrick Radden Keefe. This book tells the history of the Sackler family dynasty and the founders of Purdue Pharma. It focuses on their introduction of Oxycontin and how over seven million people became addicted to it, and thousands of people died from overdosing each year. 

Through marketing and sales representatives pushing this drug it became the pain drug of choice for doctors to prescribe. It was promised to be safe and effective and give 12-hour relief from pain, but in reality it didn’t last that long so that pain returned, and patients also went through withdrawal from the drug after about eight hours. They needed to take it more often than recommended and became addicted. It also led to heroin use (a similar opioid) when people could no longer get Oxycontin. All this while the family was living an opulent life style and blaming the victims instead of taking responsibility for the epidemic. Purdue Pharma knew the problems with the drug, but it was such a huge money maker they kept lying about it and pushing it onto doctors. After many years, Purdue was held accountable although the Sackler family was never punished until recently, when lawsuits were filed against the family members and their names were scrubbed from museums, colleges and other buildings named after the family. In 2023 a settlement was proposed that forces Purdue to restructure as a different company and the Sacklers must give up control. They would also have to pay $6 billion out of the more than $10 billion that the family earned from the sale of Oxycontin.

Our group talked about the family never admitting guilt and never showing remorse for their part in promoting this drug. They instead blamed the victims. The family led a lavish life of privilege and believed they weren’t responsible since they didn’t work at Purdue. They were finally shamed by public pressure and donations were no longer accepted from the Sackler family.

Sales reps went to poorer areas of the country where people did more manual labor and had more pain issues.   Doctors who they sold to thought people couldn’t get addicted to the drug based on what the pharmaceutical representatives told them. They thought this was a good drug to use for pain. They overprescribe pain medications that people don’t use, and sit in their medicine cabinets. 

The FDA needs to do more to protect consumers and stronger testing should be done.

The U.S. is only one of two countries that allow pharmaceutical ads. Cigarettes ads are no longer allowed.

For more information:

The Urge: Our History of Addiction, by Carl Erik Fisher

Painkiller – limited series drama on Netflix. About the Sackler family and the opioid epidemic

Sackler family - Wikipedia History of the Sackler family

Sackler Family: Where Are They Now, Who Went to Jail? (businessinsider.com) What happened to the Sackler Family in Real Life?

April’s book is In the Bright Sunshine: Young Hubert Humphrey and the Fight for Civil Rights, by Samuel  Freedman.

Thanks to Mary P for this informative write-up.

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