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The space, which opened in 1978 and is known as the Sackler Wing, is also itself a monument, to one of America’s great philanthropic dynasties.The Brooklyn-born brothers Arthur, Mortimer, and Raymond Sackler, all physicians, donated lavishly during their lifetimes to an astounding range of institutions, many of which today bear the family name: the Sackler Gallery, in Washington; the Sackler Museum, at Harvard; the Sackler Center for Arts Education, at the Guggenheim; the Sackler Wing at the Louvre; and Sackler institutes and facilities at Columbia, Oxford, and a dozen other universities.Purdue launched Oxy Contin with a marketing campaign that attempted to counter this attitude and change the prescribing habits of doctors.The company funded research and paid doctors to make the case that concerns about opioid addiction were overblown, and that Oxy Contin could safely treat an ever-wider range of maladies.According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, four out of five people who try heroin today started with prescription painkillers.

Marissa Sackler, the thirty-six-year-old daughter of Mortimer and his third wife, Theresa Rowling, founded Beespace, a nonprofit “incubator” that supports organizations like the Malala Fund.Sales representatives marketed Oxy Contin as a product “to start with and to stay with.” Millions of patients found the drug to be a vital salve for excruciating pain.But many others grew so hooked on it that, between doses, they experienced debilitating withdrawal.The Sacklers have endowed professorships and underwritten medical research.The art scholar Thomas Lawton once likened the eldest brother, Arthur, to “a modern Medici.” Before Arthur’s death, in 1987, he advised his children, “Leave the world a better place than when you entered it.” Mortimer died in 2010, and Raymond died earlier this year.

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