Who is Richard Sackler and where is he now? Details explored ahead of Netflix's Painkiller

Richard Sackler is currently 78 years old. (Image via. Getty Images)
Richard Sackler is currently 78 years old. (Image via. Getty Images)

Netflix is releasing a new drama limited series titled Painkiller on August 10, 2023. The series will explore the rise of the opioid crisis and delve into the dark narrative surrounding Purdue Pharma, the pharmaceutical company, as depicted in the books, Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe and Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America's Opioid Epidemic by Barry Meier.

Richard Sackler was the chairman and president of Purdue Pharma in the mid-2000s. It was he who pushed the company into manufacturing OxyContin on a large scale, which in turn, almost resulted in the collapse of American civilization.

Sackler currently lives outside Austin, Texas, and owns a charitable foundation, Sackler Trust.

Painkiller on Netflix: Everything to know about Richard Sackler and his role in the American opioid crisis

Born on March 10, 1945, to Beverly and Raymond Sackler, Richard Sackler received a bachelor's degree from Columbia College and an MD degree from the New York University School of Medicine.

Richard's father Raymond was the president of Purdue Pharma when he joined the company in 1971. In the 1990s, the company propagated the use of the drug OxyContin over painkillers like MS Contin. The research and development of the drug was done under Richard's eyes. Purdue Pharma also created a false narrative that OxyContin was not addictive.

The drug was approved by the FDA in 1995 under mysterious circumstances. In 1999, Richard Sackler became president of Purdue Pharma.

In 2001, Richard pushed his employees into spreading the word that OxyContin addiction was a result of unstable minds and had nothing to do with the manufacturer.

To increase profits, pharmaceutical representatives were urged to convince doctors to prescribe the drug to their patients in the highest doses possible.


The company soon received a number of lawsuits citing its responsibility for the entire crisis. In 2019, The New York Times wrote an article, mentioning:

"[The family] knew that putting patients on high dosages of OxyContin for long periods increased the risks of serious side effects, including addiction, nonetheless, they promoted higher dosages because stronger pain pills brought the company and the Sacklers the most profit."

Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy in the same year. They were ordered to pay $6 billion to several states to settle a lawsuit. Nearly $5.5 billion in cash from the family's estimated $13 billion in assets at the time was utilized to treat addicts.

However, in recent news, Richard Sackler said that neither he, his family nor his company were responsible for the devastating epidemic.

Currently aged, 78, Richard has three children, Rebecca, Marianna, and David, from his ex-wife Beth. He currently lives on the outskirts of Austin, Texas.

A synopsis of Painkiller on Netflix


The official synopsis of Painkiller reads:

"Painkiller, a fictionalized telling of real events, explores some of the origins and aftermath of the opioid crisis in America, highlighting the stories of perpetrators, victims, and truth-seekers whose lives are forever altered by the invention of OxyContin."

Created by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, Painkiller stars Uzo Aduba as Edie, Matthew Broderick as Richard Sackler, Sam Anderson as Raymond Sackler, Taylor Kitsch as Glen Kryger, Carolina Bartczak as Lily Kryger, Tyler Ritter as John Brownlee, and several others.

Painkiller will be released on Netflix on August 10, 2023.

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Edited by Vinay Agrawal
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