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Courtesy of P.A.I.N.

Nan Goldin to Help Opioid Victims File Claims Against Purdue Pharma

Artist Nan Goldin and her activist group P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) are working to get compensation for victims of the opioid epidemic and their families through the newly launched initiative OxyJustice.org, which empowers overdose survivors, former addicts, and others affected by the health crisis by helping them file a proof of claim with the United States Bankruptcy Court where the Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last September.

Accused of aggressively marketing OxyContin, its signature product, while playing down the risks of the painkiller to the medical community, Purdue Pharma was being sued by thousands of plaintiffs, including state and local governments, before it filed for bankruptcy, which temporarily halted all litigation. According to the New York Times, the Sackler family, which has largely been blamed for the opioid epidemic, came under further scrutiny after auditors revealed that more than $10 billion was withdrawn from Purdue and placed in family trusts and holding companies over the last twelve years.

This has prompted some states to demand more than the $3 billion in cash the family offered to pay over seven years as a part of a major settlement deal that also involves the Sacklers giving up control of Purdue, which will be restructured as a public beneficiary trust that will donate addiction treatment medications and money to family relief funds. According to P.A.I.N., more than 400,000 people have died from opioid overdoses since 1999, yet as of April 30, only 4,700 personal injury claims have been processed against the company nationwide. By filing a claim, victims of the opioid crisis can become creditors who have a vote in Purdue’s bankruptcy reorganization plan.

“While it’s unlikely that any person will be awarded the full value of their claim, it is essential that it be recorded to measure the impact of the Sacklers’ opioid empire,” P.A.I.N. said in a statement. “It is our duty to accurately reflect the damage done to America as a whole.”

Commenting on the impetus behind the initiative, Goldin told the Art Newspaper that OxyJustice.org was started to help people understand and take part in the bankruptcy proceedings, which she described as “difficult and unintelligible.” The artist aims to make people aware that claims against the Sacklers can be filed up until June 30 and to assist those who may not be able to file claims on their own—Attorney General William Tong is seeking to extend the deadline because of the Covid-19 pandemic. “What about the people that are homeless due to their addiction, or those in jail? Part of this initiative is getting this information to them.”

Last week, Goldin and P.A.I.N., together with a group of other activists, launched an online petition demanding accountability and more transparency from Purdue and the Sacklers. Signed by more than 1,500 people, the document decries the postponement of a $200 million emergency fund that would have provided immediate addiction treatment, but was held up due to the legal proceedings, and demands that the court appoint an examiner to conduct further investigations into Purdue and the Sacklers’ business dealings.

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