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Opioid billionaire patents an opioid treatment

A woman addicted to heroin passes out in a park. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Richard Sackler, whose family and company made billions from the sale of highly addictive opioid painkillers, has now patented a new and potentially lucrative treatment for opioid addiction, the Financial Times reports.

Why it matters: More than 200,000 people have died from prescription opioid overdoses since 1999. And Purdue Pharma, which the Sackler family owns privately, has become a poster child for the opioid crisis because of the way it aggressively marketed OxyContin despite rampant abuse of that drug.

The details: Richard Sackler is listed on the patent for a new formulation of buprenorphine, one of the leading treatments for opioid addiction, per the FT. Buprenorphine is administered through a tablet or strip that dissolves in patients' mouths; Sackler's version says it would dissolve faster.

Go deeper: The New York Times investigated Purdue and the Sackler family's role in the opioid crisis. So did the Los Angeles Times.