The Evil Business Genius: Arthur Sackler

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Arthur’s first big hit was William Douglas McAdams Inc, a medical advertising agency.
  3. McAdams helped drug companies sell and market their drugs. Created ad campaigns, bought media, helped strategize what to do with salesforce.
  4. After Arthur died, McAdams sold. It had $170m in annual billings.
  5. McAdams had 170 employees.
  6. Arthur also started Medical Tribune, a bi-monthly newspaper for doctors.
  7. Medical Tribune was sold as well after his death for “less than $75m“.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

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