Two things I love: evil thrillers and money.
I’m reading about the Sackler family. They popularized Oxycontin. They were horrible people. Horrible to their families, unethical in business, and pushed a drug that killed millions. I can’t stand them.
But…you can always learn. Even from evil. So, I’m reading Empire of Pain, a book on their story.
Some interesting facts about the family before launching Oxycontin:
- Arthur Sackler was the eldest brother and patriarch of the family. He brought his two other brothers, Raymond and Mortimer, into each of the businesses he started.
- Arthur’s first big hit was William Douglas McAdams Inc, a medical advertising agency.
- McAdams helped drug companies sell and market their drugs. Created ad campaigns, bought media, helped strategize what to do with salesforce.
- After Arthur died, McAdams sold. It had $170m in annual billings.
- McAdams had 170 employees.
- Arthur also started Medical Tribune, a bi-monthly newspaper for doctors.
- Medical Tribune was sold as well after his death for “less than $75m“.
- Annual revenues for the newspaper “ranged from $50 million to $80 million in the last few years.” This was in the early 90’s, late 80s. Adjusted for today, that’s around $150m to $200m a year in revenue.
- Whatever it was, it must have been very profitable. Arthur was buying fancy NYC townhomes, made 7-figure donations, and had an art collection in the tens of millions of dollars.
- When he did, his net worth was around $150m in the late 80s, around $400m today.
And then Oxy was created. And that’s when the family’s wealth went crazy.