We must stop the Sacklers’ imminent Justice Department immunity deal

Protesters demonstrate outside of Purdue Pharma’s headquarters
Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

A thousand fake OxyContin bottles floating in the waters of the Met’s Temple of Dendur, a blizzard of prescriptions raining down from the atrium of the Guggenheim, dozens lying “dead” in the porcelain courtyard of the V&A, blood-soaked Oxy dollars littering the steps of the courthouse. We woke the art world up to the reality that they were funded by addiction and death.

Pain (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) started as a direct action group in 2018. Our goal was to shame the Sackler name. We were also told to back-off, that philanthropy is complicated. We realised that the elite were immune to consequence. But then, a domino effect occurred and, one by one, museums stopped accepting their funding. “Sackler” became synonymous with the opioid crisis. The family* can no longer use philanthropy to wash their blood money.

Opioid overdoses have been ravaging Americans for two decades. Half a million people have been killed by this man-made plague, the origins of which can be traced to one family, the Sacklers, and their private company, Purdue Pharma. At the launch of OxyContin in 1996, Richard Sackler knew how lucrative it would be to overprescribe the highly addictive drug. He boasted its debut would “be followed by a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition”. Richard was right—the Sacklers got their blizzard, and the country got buried.

As the Sacklers were ousted from museums, they went looking for protection from another institution that has long favoured the wealthy and powerful: the US court system. There, they are protected by a flotilla of the most expensive lawyers who have engineered a bankruptcy deal that will grant them immunity from future liability. It is clear that there are two justice systems: one for the billionaires and one for the rest of us.

In this environment, Pain is once again an unwelcome guest, exposing what we understand to be Purdue’s schemes and presenting facts that other players in the bankruptcy case often ignore: the bribing of a medical record company to push doctors to prescribe their opioids (as reported by Reuters); the injunction that shields Purdue’s owners from future lawsuits across the country; and proposed multi-million-dollar bonuses for its executives, even after the company declared bankruptcy. The court has ruled against us every time, so far. They underrate us because we are so few. But look at what Pain has done with only a dozen members. Now, we have formed the Ad-Hoc Committee for Accountability, with parents who lost their children to OxyContin, pushing for the public disclosure oRead More – Source

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