Brown Bag Book Club: Empire of Pain
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Brown Bag Book Club: Empire of Pain

The Brown Bag Book Club will meet in person at Parr Library on Thursday, January 26, at noon, to discuss Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe.

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe

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According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 75% of drug overdose deaths in 2020 involved an opioid.  This means almost 50,000 people die every year from opioid overdose and it is one of the leading causes of death in the US.  Millions more have become addicted and are at risk of dying from an overdose.  The manufacturer of the powerful opioid painkiller OxyContin is Purdue Pharma, a private company owned by a single family – the Sackler family. How did a drug that first hit the market in 1996 cause so much damage in so little time?  Patrick Radden Keefe’s thorough investigative skills highlight how the greed of the Sackler family for their cash cow overcame any regret or remorse over the damage wrought by OxyContin.  A disturbing story leaving little doubt that the Sacklers were aware of the impact that their drug was having and how they actively worked to get it into the hands of millions of people across the globe.  It raises many questions about the role that various groups play in the drug process and who is or should be ultimately responsible.

Empire of Pain is a gripping tale of capitalism at its most innovative and ruthless that Keefe tells with a masterful grasp of the material. Purdue Pharma promised a life free of pain. But as the author notes, while the company knew everything about how to get people on to OxyContin, they seemed to have little idea of, or interest in, how to get them off it.” – The Guardian

“In jaw-dropping detail, Keefe recounts the greed, deception and corruption at the heart of the Sackler family’s multigenerational quest for wealth and social status. Renowned for their philanthropy, the Sacklers built their fortune through the pharmaceutical industry in the 1940s and ’50s, making calculated moves in medical advertising and with the Food and Drug Administration. Keefe brilliantly traces the Sacklers’ path toward developing controversial pharmaceutical products such as the anti-anxiety medicine Valium and the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin via their company, Purdue Pharma.” – Bookpage

Patrick Radden Keefe is an American writer and investigative journalist. He is the author of five books—Chatter, The Snakehead, Say Nothing, Empire of Pain, and Rogues—and has written extensively for many publications, including The New Yorker, Slate, and The New York Times Magazine.

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