One can argue that Rush Limbaugh was already dead the moment he started taking opioids, which became an addiction. The opioid phenomena got exploded over the years. Who is responsible for the opioid crisis? Who is essentially overdosing America with OxiCotin and Percocet? Muslim extremists? Black gangs? The main culprit behind the drugs is the Sackler family.
The Sackler family created Purdue Pharma, which has already cashed in at least $35 billion from essentially overdosing America. It was reported in 2020 that a federal bankruptcy judge charged Purdue Pharma of “three felony counts of criminal wrongdoing,” where they had to pay $3.8 billion. In fact, “thousands of opioid lawsuits” were leveled against Purdue Pharma. Back in 2007, Michael Friedman, the company’s president, and Paul D. Goldenheim, a former chief medical officer, were pleaded guilty of misleading people about OxiCotin’s addictive power and were required to pay at least US$34.5 million in fines. In 2018, the states of Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas all sued Purdue Pharma for using “misleading marketing tactics that are fueling the nation’s opioid epidemic.”
When pharmacists like Ashwani Sheoran spoke up about the problem long before it escalated, he was told to stay quiet, and eventually the industry fired him. Sheoran remembered: “They start putting more pressure on me to just be quiet and not to say anything more. They told me, ‘Do not reach out to the DEA, do not call the police. If you do so, your employment is going to be terminated immediately.’” That is certainly a criminal act. Economists Kasey Buckles, William Evans and Ethan Lieber of the University of Notre Dame have argued that the opioid crisis is actually “responsible for millions of children living apart from parents.” So how many people will go to jail for these criminal acts? None.
Yet despite the fact that OxyContin was killing Americans by the thousands, the American Enterprise Institute was getting $50,000 a year from Purdue Pharma. “Purdue donated $50,000 annually to the institute, which is commonly known as AEI, from 2003 through this year , plus contributions for special events, for a total of more than $800,000.” This billion-dollar industry has been supported by a flurry of Neocon think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute.
By 2018, the AEI published an article in response to the opioid crisis saying, “AEI has responded to this need with a new body of work from economist Alex Brill, demographer Nicholas Eberstadt, journalist Naomi Schaefer Riley, and addiction psychiatrist Sally Satel. They are studying the problem from economic, medical, cultural and child welfare perspectives. As important, AEI will learn from local communities what is working well and how successful programs might be scaled up through effective public policies.” Not a single word about the AEI being funded by the opioid industry. Not a single word about people at the AEI sending articles to Burt Rosen of Purdue Pharma to get his approval on how to respond to the crisi.
Patrick Radden Keefe of the New Yorker argues that the Sackler family “built an empire of pain.” They created OxyContin, whose “sole active ingredient is oxycodone, a chemical cousin of heroin which is up to twice as powerful as morphine.” The Sackler family realized that in order to sell their products, they had to acquire a set of particular skills: “a seduction of not just the patient but the doctor who writes the prescription.” They ended up doing exactly that. In they ended up killing forty-five Americans every single day with opioid overdoses. That’s 315 Americans every single week. Keefe writes: “Seeing that physicians were most heavily influenced by their own peers, he [Arthur Sackler] enlisted prominent ones to endorse his products, and cited scientific studies (which were often underwritten by the pharmaceutical companies themselves).”
So, when it was announced that Limbaugh was dead, it was no surprised at all. It was a matter of time, and perhaps that was one reason why he was so incoherent. He was so addicted that he was accused of “doctor shopping” in order “to illegally receive about 2,000 painkillers.”
-  Brian Mann, “Federal Judge Approves Landmark $8.3 Billion Purdue Pharma Opioid Settlement,” National Public Radio, November 17, 2020.
-  Brian Mann, “Purdue Pharma Reaches Tentative Deal To Settle Thousands Of Opioid Lawsuits,” National Public Radio, September 11, 2019.
-  Sue Lindsey, “OxyContin maker, execs guilty of deceit,” USA Today, May 11, 2007.
-  John C. Moritz, “6 states sue maker of OxyContin as they battle expenses, human costs of opioid crisis,” USA Today, May 15, 2018.
-  Laura Strickler, “Purdue Pharma offers $10-12 billion to settle opioid claims,” NBC News, August 28, 2019.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  Brian Mann, “Former Walmart Pharmacists Say Company Ignored Red Flags As Opioid Sales Boomed,” National Public Radio, January 3, 2021.
-  Colleen Sharkey, “Economists conclude opioid crisis responsible for millions of children living apart from parents,” Notre Dame News, August 11, 2020. See also: https://www3.nd.edu/~elieber/research/drugskids.pdf#:~:text=The%20Drug%20Crisis%20and%20the%20Living%20Arrangements%20of,over%20the%20last%20three%20decades%20in%20the%20United..
-  Jan Hoffman, “Sacklers Would Give Up Ownership of Purdue Pharma Under Settlement Proposal,” NY Times, August 27, 2019.
-  David Armstrong, “Inside Purdue Pharma’s Media Playbook: How It Planted the Opioid ‘Anti-Story,’” Propublica.org, November 19, 2019.
-  “How AEI is helping to combat the opioid epidemic,” Aei.org, June 21, 2018.
-  Armstrong, “Inside Purdue Pharma’s Media Playbook: How It Planted the Opioid ‘Anti-Story.’”
-  Patrick Radden Keefe, “The Family That Built an Empire of Pain,” New Yorker, October 23, 2017.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  Tim Dickinson, “Rush Limbaugh, Right-Wing Radio Host Who Trafficked in Bigotry and Cruelty, Dead at 70,” Rolling Stone, February 17, 2021.
Jonas E. Alexis has degrees in mathematics and philosophy. He studied education at the graduate level. His main interests include U.S. foreign policy, the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, and the history of ideas. He is the author of the new book Zionism vs. the West: How Talmudic Ideology is Undermining Western Culture. He teaches mathematics in South Korea.