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August 25, 2019

New Jersey’s ‘David Sackler’ sues media outlets for wrongly making him a face of the opioid crisis

June 13, 2019
WRONGLY IDENTIFIED: David Sackler says in a new lawsuit that media outlets turned his life into a real downer by incorrectly running his photo alongside stories about the notorious Sackler family blamed for the opioid crisis. Pictured here at the Long Island Marriott Hotel & Conference Center on October 15, 2008 in Uniondale, New York. (Janette Pellegrini/WireImage)

He’s David Sackler — but not THAT David Sackler.

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A New Jersey executive says in a new lawsuit that media outlets turned his life into a real downer by wrongly running his photo with stories about the Sackler family of pharmaceutical fame who are being blamed for contributing in large part to America’s opioid crisis.

“Being ‘David Sackler’ is not a good thing,” he said in the lawsuit, which attributes an array of unpleasant incidents to mistaken identity.

The Sacklers who are the founding family of Purdue Pharma, which makes Oxycontin, have been in the news as states sued them on accusations that they profited from the opioid crisis. Members of the Sackler family who have been called out in legal actions include former chairman and president Richard Sackler, Jonathan D. Sackler; Dr. Kathe Sackler; Ilene Sackler Lefcourt; Mortimer D.A. Sackler; Beverly Sackler; Theresa Sackler; and David A. Sackler.

In an amended complaint filed Tuesday against HBO, ABC, the New York Post, Reuters and Heart Magazines, David Sackler, 52, cited a random stranger approaching him in a store in Florida and telling him, “f–k you, drug dealer.”

“I saw you on the news – your family sells oxy,” another stranger told Sackler while he waited in line for a cup of coffee. He tried to explain, but to no avail, that the media outlets had run a photo of the wrong Sackler, according to court papers. “Why would they use your picture? You’re f—ing disgusting,” the man said. “You and your family are scumbags.”

David Sackler, who works in the wellness and fitness industry, says he’s grown a beard and wears a cap when out in public. He’s been refused restaurant reservations, received threats over social media and had business deals collapse, according to the lawsuit.

“If you are a Purdue Sackler, you are a pos. Go to hell,” a woman he did not know from Michigan wrote him over Facebook. At a business trade show in California a person confronted him said he would burn in hell, according to the lawsuit.

“He’s been accosted in multiple states by people who think he caused the opioid crisis,” Sackler’s attorney Eric Rothstein said.

The media outlets got Sackler’s photo from the photo service Getty, which photographed him at an event promoting a beverage he created called Trim Water, according to the lawsuit.

“Good Morning America” and “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver” aired the photo in segments about Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family. Reuters and Town & Country used the image for a graphic of the Sackler family tree, according to the lawsuit. The Post used the image for a story about the Sacklers being shunned by Manhattan’s elite. The stories were all published this year.

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The media outlets did not respond to requests for comment or declined to comment. A representative for the Sackler pharmaceutical family did not respond to a request for comment.

Sackler’s lawsuit seeks damages to be determined at trial.

The Daily News was unable to locate a photo of the David Sackler associated with Purdue Pharma.

The Sackler family of Purdue Pharma is estimated to be worth $13 billion, much of it due to the sale of the highly-addictive painkiller Oxycontin that it aggressively marketed.

In March the family and Purdue Pharma settled for $270 million a case brought by Oklahoma over the opioid crisis.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James has also sued the family, alleging they put “profit over patients.”

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