Deposition of opioid profiteer Richard Sackler reveals his bizarre defense: definitional games and insistence that words mean their opposite

Richard Sackler is the only known member of the powerful opioid family (previously) to have been deposed; the 2015 deposition was published last week by Propublica and it reveals Sackler's bizarre rationalizations for his family company's deliberate creation of the opioid epidemic.

Sackler talks like the kind of powerful man who gets to say whatever bullshit comes into his mind while everyone around him nods their heads and praises him for his wisdom (see also: D. Trump).

For example, when asked why he sent an email expressing seeming delight at the dismayed warning by Oxycontin inventor Robert Kaiko that the company's sales plan would lead to widespread adoption, Sackler said that he was only being polite, and that really, he planned on abandoning the plan (he didn't abandon the plan).

Then there's a long section where Sackler discusses what was meant by internal company documents that detailed plans to encourage doctors to view Oxycontin as "weaker" than morphine (Oxycontin is twice as powerful as morphine), but he was using "weaker" to mean "less threatening" rather than more potent.

As Ars Technica's Beth Mole points out, this is all laughable bullshit — the only thing remarkable about it is that Sackler said it with a straight face.

In 1997, Richard was involved in discussion with employees of a Sackler-owned company in Germany over whether they could get regulatory authorities there to let them sell OxyContin as an uncontrolled drug. Though OxyContin developer Robert Kaiko warned that this was a terrible idea, Richard seemed supportive of the idea, asking in a subsequent message: "How substantially would it improve your sales?" But in his deposition, Richard insisted he was never a fan of the idea, arguing, "we were not in favor of this, but we were trying to be polite and solicitous rather than saying, this is a terrible idea, forget it, don't do it."

When the idea ultimately failed, Richard sent a message to an employee in Germany saying, "When we are next together we should talk about how this idea was raised and why it failed to be realized. I thought that it was a good idea if it could be done."

In the deposition, Richard explained this by saying, "That's what [my response] said, but I didn't mean it. I just wanted to be encouraging."

Sackler behind OxyContin fraud offered twisted, mind-boggling defense [Beth Mole/Ars Technica]

(via Naked Capitalism)

(Image: Dean, CC-BY)