6/23 The Secret History of the Sackler Family’s Oxycontin Dynasty w/ Patrick Radden Keefe

June 23, 2021

Sam and Emma host Patrick Radden Keefe, staff writer at the New Yorker and author of Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, on how the family behind Perdue Pharma and Oxycontin built their fortune on opioid addiction and pharmaceutical marketing. Beginning with the origin of the Sackler dynasty, Keefe walks us through how Arthur Sackler’s combination of Draper-esque marketing spirit with pharmaceutical knowledge established the blueprint that the family would take forwards into the development of Oxycontin. They also cover the in-depth manipulation of the perception of the drug, particularly among medical experts, as the Sackler family capitalized on professional misconceptions regarding the potency of oxycodone, allowing them to push non-scientific addiction statistics. Beyond discussions of the Succession-type family dynamics and lack of empathy prevalent with the Sacklers, Patrick, Emma, and Sam also explore the failures of the system at every possible check, from the DOJ, DEA, and FDA to the entirety of Congress, and how many of these instances can be traced back to the Sackler fortune. They conclude the interview touching on the copious legal battles, in every state and at almost every level of court, that the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma are currently facing, and try to tackle how big their blood fortune actually is. Emma and Sam round out the free half with a discussion on NY primaries, including India Walton’s big win in Buffalo, looking to become the city’s first woman or socialist mayor, and a smaller chat on how NYC progressives’ chances are shaping up in the mayoral race and a few city council races.

And in the Fun Half: Sam gets vulnerable and flexes his performance art muscles as the crew walks through some lingering talking points from Crowder’s great debate escape, before Tim Pool reminds us how the entire event was really about Sam and him. Then, Matt from PA calls in to explore the violent grip that figures on the online alt-right have on much of the public, obscuring any economic alignment they might have with the left through an emphasis on culture war, and John from San Antonio looks into socialist progress in NY and SA City Council, and reflects on how Bernie could’ve better managed to represent his socialist identity to the public. The fun half is wrapped up by admiring Dave Rubin’s claim to the political tutelage of one Glenn Greenwald, and Meghan McCain’s insistence on US fealty to the Catholic Church, plus, your calls and IMs!

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