Addiction activists descended on the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City Saturday to excoriate the institution for accepting massive contributions from the family blamed for igniting the opioid epidemic.
Led by photographer Nan Goldin, demonstrators entered the Sackler Wing of the museum, which houses the famous Temple of Dendur, and littered the exhibit with prescription pill bottles in protest of donations from the opioid-enriched Sackler family. The bottles, which activists threw into the Temple’s reflecting pool, had labels that read, “OxyContin…prescribed to you by the Sacklers,” reported The New York Times.
Protesters carried banners reading “Shame on Sacklers” and “Fund Rehab” as they chanted, “Sacklers lie; people die,” from inside the halls of the wing bearing the family’s name. Goldin, who was addicted to OxyContin from 2014 to 2017, wants to highlight the family’s aggressive marketing of opioid painkillers in the late 1990s that lead to widespread opioid abuse and more than 200,000 prescription overdose deaths between 1999 and 2016.
#Repost @jeffreypatrickgold ・・・ Brave people stand up against the Production & Prescribing of Opioids.. one of the most additive and deadly substances ever manufactured Shame on #sackler family original inventors & producers Donating $ Millions on Art & $ 0 toward fighting this epidemic #sacklergallery @metropolitanmuseum @sacklerpain #purduepharma #jnj #johnson @johnsonsbaby @tevapharm #teva @tevapharmaceuticalsinc #tevapharmaceuticals #endohealth #cephalon #allergan
The Sackler Wing at the Met is named for brothers Arthur, Mortimer and Raymond Sackler, who bought Purdue in the early 1950s. Arthur is known for pioneering the aggressive marketing campaigns now commonly employed by pharmaceutical companies to maximize their drug sales.
This strategy helped Arthur make Valium the first $100 million drug in the U.S., according to the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame.
Arthur died years before the company rebranded as Purdue Pharma and released OxyContin. However, Mortimer and Raymond lived to see the painkiller become a massive success. The Sacklers’ Purdue, through a major association that accredits health organizations, funded and distributed educational material beginning in the late 1990s that downplayed the risks of opioids. (RELATED: Billionaire Family Behind OxyContin Apparently Spends ZILCH Rehabbing Addicts)
Purdue’s profits from OxyContin sales topped $1.5 billion by 2001, up from $48 million in 1996. Dr. Richard Sackler, Raymond’s son, became president of Purdue Pharma in 1999 and co-chairman of the board of directors in 2003, formative times for the company during which it intensely marketed OxyContin and pushed doctors to prescribe opioids for nearly all forms of pain.
OxyContin eventually helped the Sackler family achieve a $13 billion net worth, earning them the 19th slot on Forbes’ annual list of the wealthiest families in the country. Despite their massive wealth, the family has spent nothing on addiction rehab or treatment. (RELATED: Opioid Heir Ignores Addicts, Buys $23 Million Bel-Air Mansion Instead)
Goldin’s advocacy group Prescription Addiction Intervention Now, or PAIN, aims to hold the Sackler family accountable by making them fund opioid addiction treatment centers. She also wants to draw attention to the Sackler’s philanthropy. “They have washed their blood money through the halls of museums and universities around the world,” the photographer said in January.
“We are artists, activists, addicts,” Goldin said during the protest at the Met Saturday, according to The New York Times. “We are fed up. We’re just getting started. We’ll be back.”
The Daily Caller News Foundation first highlighted on Aug. 28 the role Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family played in fueling the opioid crisis through a deceptive marketing campaign that pushed knowingly false information downplaying the addictive risks of painkillers.
An Oct. 9 investigation by TheDCNF revealed the large sums of opioid profits the Sackler family has donated to medical research and art institutions, like the Met, many of which honor the family with wings bearing their name. It found none of those profits have gone towards helping victims of addiction.
A report by TheDCNF on Nov. 13 detailed 44 nonprofits that took at least $100,000 from the Sacklers between 2013 and 2015. Every organization contacted, including prestigious institutions such as the Met, the Brooklyn Museum and the Guggenheim Museum, were all seemingly indifferent to their funding source, some even defending the Sackler family.
Purdue Pharma denies allegations of complicity in the opioid epidemic and says they are committed to curbing rates of opioid abuse.
“We are deeply troubled by the opioid crisis and we are dedicated to being part of the solution. As a company grounded in science, we must balance patient access to FDA-approved medicines, while working collaboratively to solve this public health challenge,” a company spokesman previously told TheDCNF.
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans under age 50, killing more than 64,000 people in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Also WATCH: President Trump Vows To Win The War Against Opioid Addiction:
Data released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse on Sept. 7 paints a grim outlook for the future of the drug crisis ravaging American communities.
America’s addiction epidemic will continue to deteriorate, pushing drug deaths to an estimated 71,600 in 2017, the study predicted. If the estimates prove accurate, 2017 will be the second year in a row drug deaths surpass U.S. casualties in the Vietnam War.
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