The billionaire owner of Purdue Pharma, the controversial manufacturer of popular opioids like OxyContin, has procured a patent for an addiction treatment aimed at stymieing the ongoing opioid crisis across the nation. Richard Sackler’s successful patenting of the new treatment drug, a form of buprenorphine, has come under intense scrutiny given the billionaire’s extensive ties to the ongoing opioid epidemic that’s ravaging the country.

Purdue Pharma, privately owned by the Sackler family, is most famed for its drug OxyContin, a popular painkiller that the company allegedly pushed to doctors for years, helping to spur a massive opioid crisis across the country.

Thus far, at least six attorneys generals from various states have already brought lawsuits against Purdue, alleging that the company knowingly profited off the addictions that cost untold thousands their lives over the years.

Getting rich from an epidemic

“As Purdue got rich from sales of its opioids, [U.S. Citizens] across the nation were swept up in a public health crisis that led to tens of thousands of deaths each year due to opioid overdoses,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said.

The scandals surrounding Purdue Pharma didn’t prove to be a roadblock in Sackler’s efforts to patent a new drug that hopes to help addicts on the road to recovery, however. Rhodes Technologies Inc., a subsidiary of Purdue Pharma, secured the patent for the new drug under Sackler’s efforts.

Critics have derived Sackler as being incapable of helping addicts in their struggle against addiction, precisely because his own company allegedly suppressed reports that its OxyContin drug was harming the public’s health. Despite the fact that Purdue Pharma claimed ignorance when questioned about the addictive nature of its drugs, a copy of a confidential Justice Department report revealed that some senior executives were clearly aware of these consequences, but continued to push the drugs to doctors.

New treatment option

The new drug treatment, a form of buprenorphine, is essentially a weakened opiate and works much better than a home remedy. Advocates hope that it will be of use to addicts who are struggling with intense drug cravings, which can cause relapses into addiction if they grow too strong to ignore.

These addiction-treatment drugs can be quite lucrative, too; according to the Financial Times, the most popular version of buprenorphine generated over $877 million in sales in the United States just last year.

Both Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family have denied allegations of wrongdoing and dismissed lawsuits against them as frivolous.