Netflix Painkiller: Where is Richard Sackler now?

Painkiller. Matthew Broderick as Richard Sackler in episode 103 of Painkiller. Cr. © 2023
Painkiller. Matthew Broderick as Richard Sackler in episode 103 of Painkiller. Cr. © 2023 /

Netflix has just released its latest limited series Painkiller, fictionalized retelling of true events. The drama centers around the role billion-dollar pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma and their designer drug OxyContin allegedly played in the epidemic.

Painkiller casts Matthew Broderick in its fictionalized role of Dr. Richard Sackler, the former chairman and president of Purdue Pharma, who has been accused of misleading the public about the safety of OxyContin. In recent years, Purdue has been embroiled in several lawsuits related to the drug.

The fictionalized version and the real Sackler did everything he could to avoid admitting to any wrongdoing and instead repeatedly shifted blame to the addicts and people misusing his product, conveniently leaving out their misleading and predatory marketing strategies.

Hot. Painkiller: All six episodes recapped and explained. light

The show’s six-episode length doesn’t even get into all the insidiousness involved with this company and the Sackler family. I recommend checking out Patrick Radden Keefe’s book Empire of Pain to get a more complete picture (Keefe also wrote The New Yorker article the show is based on).

For now, here’s an overview of everything you need to know about the real Richard Sackler.

Everything to know about the real Richard Sackler

Painkiller. Matthew Broderick as Richard Sackler in episode 105 of Painkiller. Cr. Keri Anderson/Netflix © 2023
Painkiller. Matthew Broderick as Richard Sackler in episode 105 of Painkiller. Cr. Keri Anderson/Netflix © 2023 /

How old is Richard Sackler?

Richard Stephen Sackler is currently 78 years old. He was born in Roslyn, New York, on March 10, 1945.

Does Richard Sackler still work for Purdue Pharma?

Purdue Pharma has been dissolved, and the company remains in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Sacklers also gave up company ownership in one of their settlements.

Is Purdue Pharma still in business?

As of July 2023, final approval for Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy is still pending, so the company remains in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. That means the company can, more or less, continue operating while the owners and creditors reallocate the funds to determine how to pay off their debuts. That’s why it’s sometimes nicknamed “reorganization bankruptcy” filing.

In 2021, NPR reported that the new company that will emerge from Purdue Pharma once all is said and done will be allowed to continue making products like OxyContin.

Does Richard Sackler have a dog named Unch?

Yes, Richard Sackler supposedly had a dog named Unch, who he would more or less let run amok at Purdue Pharma’s headquarters. Patrick Radden Keefe wrote about it in his book Empire of Pain. Unch, the dog, was also depicted in Hulu’s take on the opioid crisis, Dopesick.

Richard Sackler’s net worth in 2023

Celebrity Net Worth reports that Richard Sackler alone has a net worth of around $1 billion.

Is the Sackler family still billionaires?

The Sackler family was reportedly worth over $13 billion, though that number has dropped some due to recent lawsuits. They’re still estimated to be worth more than $10 billion, so yes, they are still billionaires.

Did Richard Sackler practice medicine? What kind of doctor was he?

The former Purdue chairman received his bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and then his MD from the New York University School of Medicine. He is licensed to practice medicine in New York and Connecticut. However, there isn’t much information about whether or not he actually practiced in either state.

Per STAT News:

"His Connecticut license lists him as a physician and surgeon, although there is little public information about the extent that he practiced medicine. He did his postgraduate training at Hartford Hospital in the internal medicine unit. At one time, he was a board member of the American Medical Association."

Who is Richard Sackler’s wife?

Sackler was previously married to Beth Sackler. They have three children together: David, Marianna, and Rebecca.

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Did anyone from Purdue Pharma go to jail?

None of the Sacklers have faced criminal charges for their part in the opioid crisis. In 2021, a judge ruled that the Sacklers would have to pay $4.5 billion as part of a settlement between the Sacklers and Purdue, and several US states involved in a lawsuit against them. This agreement would allow them to dissolve the company and restructure it into a benefit corporation dedicated to addressing the opioid crisis.

However, the judge’s ruling also upheld a “legal shield” of sorts that would protect the Sacklers from criminal prosecution. As part of the settlement, Purdue Pharma was dissolved. Still, the terms of the agreement have been criticized because the judge agreed to protections for the Sackler family against future criminal prosecution.

It’s not unusual for companies who file for bankruptcy, like Purdue, to be granted legal protections. Still, typically that doesn’t extend to the owners, especially if they did not file for bankruptcy; such is the case with the Sacklers.

The Sacklers have remained adamant that they had no part to play in the opioid epidemic, merely lamenting that OxyContin “unexpectedly” became part of the crisis. They have not admitted to any wrongdoing. Purdue Pharma did plead guilty to criminal charges related to misleading marketing, but thus far, the Sacklers have kept their hands clean.

In March 2022, the Sacklers were ordered to pay $6 billion as part of a settlement involving the District of Columbia and eight additional states. Again, this money is said to be going to the victims of the opioid crisis, including hospitals, victims of addiction, and the states most affected.

Earlier this year, the Sackler family gave up ownership of Purdue after an appeals court endorsed the March 2022 settlement. As part of the new settlement, the Sacklers have also won immunity from future opioid-related lawsuits in exchange for the $6 billion payout.

Where does Richard Sackler live now?

While the family is still undeniably wealthy, Richard Sackler has been quietly selling off some of his properties, seemingly as a direct result of the lawsuits. In February 2023, The New York Post reported that he’d sold over $30 million in property.

Despite offloading several properties, The Daily Mail reports that Sackler is living in a $1.71 million Boca Raton, Florida home purchased in 2021 after selling his Austin, Texas home for over $3 million.

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