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Guggenheim hit by opioid protest

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 12 February 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l691
  1. Alison Shepherd
  1. The BMJ
The New York T​imes/Redux/eyevine

The US photographer and activist Nan Goldin brought New York’s Guggenheim Museum to a standstill last weekend by organising a protest against it accepting donations from the family that owns the maker of OxyContin, the prescription painkiller at the root of the US opioid crisis.

Goldin and fellow demonstrators, chanting criticism of the Sacklers, who own Purdue Pharma, handed out fake pill bottles and threw fake prescriptions down the landmark atrium. They also lay on the floor, as if dead.

Goldin, who had an opioid overdose after being prescribed OxyContin, is campaigning for art and academic institutions in the US and the UK to refuse philanthropy from the Sacklers. “I want the Guggenheim and others to disavow themselves from the Sacklers and refuse future funding from them,” she told the Guardian.

The surviving relatives of the Purdue founders, who now own the company, have been much criticised for its alleged hard sell tactics on doctors while underplaying the dangers of OxyContin.12

Figures from the US Centers for Disease Control show that more than 72 000 people a year in the US die from drug overdoses—and 49 000 are caused by opioids.


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