A photographer who battled OxyContin addiction has started an advocacy group targeting the family that made a $13 billion fortune from the narcotic painkiller’s sales and played a crucial role in starting the opioid epidemic.
Nan Goldin recently launched Prescription Addiction Intervention Now, or PAIN, to coerce the Sackler family into funding opioid addiction treatment, according to her editorial in the January edition of Artforum.
“The Sacklers made their fortune promoting addiction,” she wrote, adding that she started PAIN “to hold them accountable.”
“OxyContin is one of the most addictive painkillers in the history of pharmacology,” she continued. “They advertised and distributed their medication knowing all the dangers. The Sackler family and their private company, Purdue Pharma, built their empire with the lives of hundreds of thousands. The bodies are piling up.”
Purdue is the drug manufacturer behind OxyContin and is widely blamed as playing a major role in starting the opioid epidemic. The company launched an aggressive marketing campaign that downplayed opioids’ addictive nature and ultimately reversed doctors fears of prescribing the narcotic painkillers.
The Sacklers are primarily known for their international philanthropy rather than their deep ties to the opioid epidemic. The family has never publicly donated to addiction rehabilitation centers, The Daily Caller News Foundation previously found.
“To get their ear we will target their philanthropy,” Goldin wrote. “They have washed their blood money through the halls of museums and universities around the world. We demand that the Sacklers and Purdue Pharma use their fortune to fund addiction treatment and education.”
Both the Sacklers and their beneficiaries, which include famous organizations such as New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim, have made concerted efforts to downplay their ties to opioid money.
Only six of the Sacklers’ 44 largest beneficiaries responded to TheDCNF’s request for comment, all of which defended the family and their donations.
Goldin’s description of her Oxycontin addiction is reminiscent of stories from other opioid addicts. She took the painkiller as prescribed following surgery, but “got addicted overnight,” she wrote.
“In the beginning, 40 milligrams was too strong, but as my habit grew, there was never enough,” Golding continued. She ultimately took 18 pills per day, guided by a “crippling fear” of withdrawal.
“Counting and recounting, crushing and snorting was my full-time job, Goldin wrote. “I rarely left the house. It was as if I was locked-in. All work, all friendships, all news took place on my bed. When I ran out of money for oxy I copped dope. I ended up snorting fentanyl and I overdosed.”
TheDCNF’s American Cartel investigative series has extensively tied the Sacklers to the opioid epidemic and exposed the various organizations that have accepted their money without comment.
Purdue spokesman Bob Josephson told TheDCNF in a statement:
“We are deeply troubled by the prescription and illicit opioid abuse crisis, and are dedicated to being part of the solution. For more than 15 years, this company has a strong track record of addressing prescription drug abuse which includes collaborating with law enforcement, funding state prescription drug monitoring programs and enhancing interoperability, and supporting drug take back programs. In addition, we’ve recently announced educational initiatives aimed at teenagers warning of the dangers of opioids and continue to fund grants to law enforcement to help with accessing naloxone.”
Golden did not immediately return a request for comment.
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