from The New Yorker
One day last spring, Ryan Hampton had a secret meeting with David Sackler, whose family’s company, Purdue Pharma, stood accused of helping to precipitate the opioid crisis. Hampton was the co-chair of the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (U.C.C.), a powerful group that represented thousands of people and entities with claims against Purdue in what was then an ongoing bankruptcy proceeding. His job was to act as a sort of watchdog, and he had access to a trove of sensitive material that Purdue and the Sacklers were compelled to turn over in discovery. Hampton was also in recovery from a devastating addiction to OxyContin and other opioids. He wanted to confront the family that had made billions of dollars from a drug that had caused so much suffering.
Initially, Hampton had demanded a face-to-face meeting with David’s father, Richard Sackler, one of the chief architects of OxyContin’s success. But, according to a new memoir, “Unsettled,” which Hampton will publish next month, he was told that Richard’s attorneys were worried that Richard and he would “end up killing each other by the end of the meeting.” Instead, David Sackler joined a Zoom meeting with Hampton and another member of the U.C.C., Kara Trainor. They had to agree in advance not to tell anyone about the meeting, lest word get out that a member of the Sackler family was liaising directly with an adversary during the bankruptcy proceedings.
At one point, Hampton writes, he asked, “Do you know anyone that’s struggled with opioids?”
“I don’t,” Sackler replied.
Hampton had often felt stigmatized as someone who struggled with addiction. Sackler informed him that he, too, knew what it felt like to be stigmatized—because of his family name.
“How do you think your family is going to be remembered?” Hampton asked.
“Frankly, I’m not concerned about that reputational side of things,” Sackler said.