American photographer Nan Goldin has twice been addicted to drugs. The first period lasted nearly ten years, back in the 1970s. This period, widely documented, is known to the general public through her photographs. The second is much more recent and, dates back to 2014. While suffering from chronic tendinitis on her left wrist, a Berlin-based doctor prescribed her OxyContin, an opioid medication. She was prescribed a dose of 40 grams, which was way too strong for her case. She immediately became addict.
When she returned to New York, the photographer’s doctors stop her treatment. She shought to obtain pills on the black market. In March, Nan Goldin underwent into a rehab. She found documentations and readings on OxyContin. This drug has been manufactured since 1995 by Purdue Pharma, Connecticut. The business is owned by the Sackler family. The drug chemically concentrates morphine and heroin and was made legal in 1995 by US Health authorities as it relieved pain. The drug was immediately adopted by many doctors, seduced by marketing arguments of the company. The drug is today believed to be one of the factors driving heroin addiction in the United States over the last 20 years. According to newspaper The Guardian, nearly 200,000 deaths were reported during this period.
Nan Goldin is now campaigning against the Sackler family, which produced and marketed the drug. The Sacklers are among the biggest donators at the Victoria & Albert Museum. They also founded the Sackler Gallery. Their fortune, dispatched among twenty family members, is estimated by Forbes around 14 billion of dollars.
The American photographer praises museums to no longer accept donations from the family. Her campaign is based on the following idea: targeting the philanthropic actions of the family to force them to recognize their responsibilities in this major health situation. She also wants the family to cover the promote and financially support detox programs for affected patients. Recently she launched the #ShameOnSackler hashtag on Twitter, realizing that petitions are now online. Her campaign is called Prescription Addiction Intervention Now (Pain).
A response from Elizabeth Sackler, founder of the Elizabeth A Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, will be published in Art Forum on February 1st. Elizabeth Sackler says neither her daughter nor she has received any dividends from the sale of OxyContin. Founded in 1892, Purdue Pharma entered a new dimension under the leadership of brothers Arthur, Mortimer and Raymond Sackler. At the death of Arthur Sackler in 1987, father of Elizabeth Sackler, his shares in the company were redistributed among his brothers, OxyContin was not invented yet.
PurduePharma is also the inventor and producer of benzodiazepine-based drugs, also known as Valium.