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經濟學人:美國成癮藥物濫用成災--成也阿片,敗也阿片(1)

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Books & arts

文藝板塊

Book review

書評

Opioids in America

美國阿片類藥物

Bitter pills

讓人更痛苦的藥物

Empire of Pain. By Patrick Radden Keefe.

《痛苦帝國》。作者:帕特里克·雷登·基夫

At 50,000 overdose deaths a year and rising, America’s opioid crisis has never been worse. What began in the late 1990s as an epidemic of prescription pain-pill abuse morphed into a worse one of illicit heroin and, later, fentanyl. Prosecutors and the public have zeroed in on Purdue Pharma, which introduced the blockbuster drug OxyContin in 1996. Of the colossal revenues it generated, some $13bn was paid to the company’s previously low-profile owners, members of the Sackler family, who have recently sunk from honoured arts patrons to society pariahs.

每年有5萬人死於用藥過量,而且死亡人數還在上升,美國的阿片危機從未像現在這樣糟糕。阿片危機開始於20世紀90年代末,當時處方止痛藥的濫用情況十分盛行,之後就演變成了更為嚴重的非法海洛因濫用,然後是芬太尼濫用。檢察官和公眾將矛頭對準了普渡製藥公司,該公司於1996年推出了轟動一時的藥物奧施康定。普渡製藥公司拿出了其創造的鉅額收入中的約130億美元支付給低調的前任公司所有者,即薩克勒家族的成員,他們最近從受人尊敬的藝術贊助人淪落為社會渣滓。

Patrick Radden Keefe’s excellent new book tells the story of this now-infamous clan. He traces the empire of the title to Brooklyn in 1920, and a trio of brothers born to Jewish immigrants: Arthur (the eldest and, in Mr Keefe’s telling, the “patriarch”), Raymond and Mortimer. Arthur Sackler’s business acumen and questionable ethical judgment proved lucrative. He in effect invented the field of medical advertising, creating the first family fortune after aggressively marketing the sedatives Librium and Valium to doctors, without a serious study of the addiction risks. A fascination with Chinese artefacts led him to bequeath huge sums to prestigious museums. For decades the Sackler name would primarily be associated with that largesse.

帕特里克·雷登·基夫在新書中講述了這個如今臭名昭著的家族的故事。他把痛苦帝國追溯到了1920年的布魯克林,以及猶太移民所生的三兄弟:亞瑟(長兄,基夫先生將其描述為“族長”)、雷蒙德和莫蒂默。事實證明,亞瑟·薩克勒的商業頭腦和不正當的道德判斷讓他賺了大錢。事實上,亞瑟發明了醫療廣告領域,他在沒有認真研究成癮風險的情況下,積極向醫生推銷鎮定劑利眠寧和安定,並以此創造了第一筆家族財富。對中國藝術品的迷戀讓他向享有盛譽的博物館遺贈鉅款。幾十年來,薩克勒的名字基本與贈款綁定了。

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Arthur died in 1987, almost a decade before Purdue, which the brothers had acquired in 1952, began selling OxyContin. By the time that happened, his branch of the family no longer held a stake—facts that its members hope will exonerate them from the taint of the “OxySacklers”. But after a gripping if lengthy account of the patriarch’s career in the first third of his book, Mr Keefe’s view is less forgiving. “So many of the antecedents of the saga of OxyContin could be found in the life of Arthur Sackler,” he concludes.

亞瑟於1987年去世,比普渡製藥公司(薩克勒於1952年收購了普渡)開始銷售奧施康定早了近10年。奧施康定銷售之時,薩克勒家族成員已經不再持有普渡公司的股份,薩克勒家族成員希望憑藉這一事實與“奧施薩克勒”的污點撇清干係。但基夫先是在《痛苦帝國》中以前三分之一的篇幅對亞瑟族長的職業生涯進行了引人入勝而又冗長的描述,然後他的觀點就沒有那麼寬容了。基夫總結説:“我們在亞瑟·薩克勒的一生中能夠發現許多奧施康定誕生的前因。”

For the other two brothers and their descendants, Purdue yielded money beyond even Arthur’s imaginings. “The prescription blizzard will be so deep, dense and white,” Richard Sackler, son of Raymond, promised at the launch party for OxyContin. His words proved all too prophetic. The plan for mass-market opioids was abetted by misleading advertising, which claimed that less than 1% of patients would become addicted, and a vast salesforce incentivised by lucrative commissions.

對於另外兩兄弟和他們的後代來説,普渡製藥所盈利的錢甚至超出了亞瑟的想象。雷蒙德的兒子理查德·薩克勒在奧施康定的發佈會上承諾:“處方藥將像深厚、稠密、雪白的暴風雪一樣鋪天蓋地。”事實證明,他的話非常有預見性。大規模銷售阿片類藥物的計劃受到誤導性廣告的推波助瀾,這些廣告聲稱只有不到1%的患者會上癮,而利潤豐厚的佣金刺激着龐大的銷售隊伍。

譯文由可可原創,僅供學習交流使用,未經許可請勿轉載。

重點單詞   查看全部解釋    
gripping ['gripiŋ]

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adj. 引起注意的 動詞grip的現在分詞形式

 
abuse [ə'bju:s,ə'bju:z]

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n. 濫用,惡習
vt. 濫用,辱罵,虐待

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addiction [ə'dikʃən]

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n. 沉溺,上癮

 
fascination [.fæsineiʃən]

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n. 魔力,魅力

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branch [brɑ:ntʃ]

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n. 分支,樹枝,分店,分部
v. 分支,分岔

 
vast [vɑ:st]

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adj. 巨大的,廣闊的
n. 浩瀚的太

 
bequeath [bi'kwi:ð]

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vt. 遺贈,遺留

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acumen [ə'kju:men]

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n. 鋭敏,聰明

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prescription [pris'kripʃən]

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n. 藥方,對策,開處方

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illicit [i'lisit]

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adj. 非法的,禁止的,不正當的

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