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Goldin and activists from the groups PAIN and Truth Pharm tossed blood-soaked dollar bills into the air to represent the billions in profits that Purdue and the Sacklers have made from the sale of painkillers over the last two decades Photo: Zachary Small

Minutes before lawyers for the drug company Purdue Pharma argued for the dissolution of their company in bankruptcy court, the photographer Nan Goldin picked up her dogged pursuit of the opioid manufacturer from the steps of the Southern District Federal Courthouse in White Plains, New York. “Artists need to step up and put their bodies on the line,” Goldin told The Art Newspaper. “Its not going to hurt their careers. And in this day and age, a career is not as important as fighting these systems.”

During the protest, Goldin and 15 activists from the groups PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) and Truth Pharm tossed blood-soaked dollar bills into the air to represent the billions in profits that Purdue and the Sacklers have made from the sale of painkillers over the last two decades. The fake banknotes featured the slogan “In Pharmacy We Trust”, an image of the Purdue headquarters and the number 400,000—the amount of people who have died from opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2017, according to the CDC. Pill bottles scattered on the court steps contained similar information and a warning label—“Side effect: Death.”

The demonstrators also unfurled banners demanding that courts “claw back” money from the pharmaceutical company and the personal fortunes of the Sackler family members who profited from it, to fund harm reduction programmes that have been shown to decrease overdose deaths.

Inside the courtroom, Judge Robert Drain was listening to Purdue Pharmas bankruptcy case, which critics have characterised as a way to shield billions in opioid profits from the more than 1,600 lawsuits brought by state and local government against the drug maker, and let the family behind the company absolve themselves from responsibility for the US opioid crisis. Under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Purdue would be able to pause all litigation against its assets. The companys transformation would be overseen by a bankruptcy judge and the appointment of new trustees and a board free of the Sacklers. It is unclear, however, whether the settlement would exempt family members from pending litigation against them individually.

The demonstrators unfurled banners demanding that courts “claw back” money from the pharmaceutical company and the personal fortunes of the Sackler family members who profited from it, to fund harm reduction programmes that have been shown to decrease overdose deaths Photo: Zachary Small

“We think the settlement currently being negotiated in court is a lot of smoke and mirrors,” says the artist Marina Berio, a member of PAIN member and a longtime friend of Goldins.

In September, the New York attorney generals office said that it had tracked nearly $1bn in wire transfers from Purdue to Sackler family members through Swiss bank accounts. “While the Sacklers continue to lowball victims and skirt a responsible settlement, we refuse to allow the family to misuse the courts in an effort to shield their financial misconduct,” Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut have so far refused to join a tentative $10bn settlement with the OxyContin maker. Those states would like to see the Sacklers commit at least $4.5bn of their personal wealth to families affected by the crisis. Currently, the Sacklers have agreed to provide a $3bn payout over seven years.

The company maintains that bankruptcy proceedings will clear a path for one of the biggest corporate payouts in American history. Several lawyers for the pharmaceutical giant stressed in their statements to the judge that the corporation has always manifested financial transparency in their actions.

For more than a year, PAIN has sustained a two-pronged assault on the Sackler familys reputation. Demonstrators have simultaneously urged the art world to divest itself from the philanthropic billionaire dynasty whRead More – Source