By Robert Park
A monotonous seemingly endless series of almost daily full-page ads in the NY Times from Purdue Pharma explained what a responsible company they are and how hard they’re trying to help with the opioid overdose crisis. This company is the maker of OxyContin and other opioids, and is owned by one family, worth about 13 $billion according to Forbes magazine. The recent history of Purdue Pharma, described in the NY Times (Jan.16, 2019) is visible because of law suits. In 2007 the company paid a 634 $million fine on federal criminal charges against top management, members of the Sackler family. They were charged with lying about the dangers of OxyContin in promoting the drug to doctors. More than 200,000 opioid overdose deaths have occurred since 1996 when the drug was introduced.
The Sackler executives were removed from management of the company but continued to run it, according to subsequent law suits. Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, is suing Purdue right now and new information has appeared as a result. Aside from further evidence of wonton murderous profiteering (about one billion $ per year in OxyContin sales), some insight into how these people think has emerged from internal company documents. When president of the company in 2001, one Sackler brother wrote: “we have to hammer on abusers in every way possible… They are the culprits and the problem. They are reckless criminals.” Ruling class contempt for the working class: this is about as clear as it gets.
Thousands of people with injuries caused by their work, or by accidents, with pain from appropriate medical treatments or from deferred or absent medical care, trying to keep their lives on track and deal with family obligations, they are the criminals. Kids that don’t see a livable future are the criminals. Trump’s losers, which includes most of us whose attainments in life didn’t depend on bullying, cheating or lying, we are the criminals. These are not anomalous ruling class attitudes, they are normal. Their class education trains them to think that way (although some wealthy people with a strong streak of honesty and integrity actually acknowledge, to themselves at least, a more accurate view of reality). Workers are blamed for industrial injuries and illnesses when process design and operating procedures are the culprit; students are blamed for enormous debt; homeowners devastated by banking fraud are blamed for reckless borrowing. We need to figure out who the criminals are, folks.