PRINT February 2018


Growing P.A.I.N.

January 2018 Cover: Kia LaBeija, untitled, 2017, ink-jet print, dimensions variable.

Dr. Elizabeth A. Sackler responds to Nan Goldin’s Artist’s Project in the January 2018 issue:

THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC is a national crisis and Purdue Pharma’s role in it is morally abhorrent to me. I admire Nan Goldin’s courage to speak about her story and her commitment to take action. I created the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum as a beacon for equality, equity, and justice for women—for all people. I stand in solidarity with artists and thinkers whose work and voices must be heard. My father, Arthur M. Sackler, died in 1987, before OxyContin existed, and his one-third option in Purdue Frederick was sold by his estate to his brothers a few months later. None of his descendants have ever owned a share of Purdue stock or benefited in any way from it or the sale of OxyContin.

—Dr. Elizabeth A. Sackler

Nan Goldin and P.A.I.N. respond:

I appreciate your response.

The group I started—P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now)—to address the opioid crisis has grown exponentially since its launch. Now my voice is not alone. We as a group have been aware that you are not a direct heir of the OxyContin fortune. For this reason, I did not publish pictures of your feminist wing at the Brooklyn Museum in my grid of Sackler signage. However, your father, Arthur M. Sackler, was the architect of the advertising strategies that have been so effectively implemented in the marketing of OxyContin and its highly addictive predecessors.

Your message and the principles of your feminist wing resonate with our group. We are encouraged by your disavowal of Purdue and acknowledgment of its major role in the crisis.

We ask you to be our ally.

We, as artists and activists, are asking you to show solidarity with our mission. We ask you to use your influence in pressuring the Sacklers and Purdue Pharma to be a part of the solution to this epidemic, which their company played such a monumental part in creating.

We ask that you add your signature to our petition and join us in our fight to save the lives of the millions affected by this crisis.


P.A.I.N. is a group founded by Nan Goldin and her colleagues in response to the opioid crisis. We are committed to making the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma responsible for helping to find solutions to America’s opioid epidemic. To that end, we insist that the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma fund treatment and education programs and correct the misinformation regarding opioids. We intend to put pressure on museums, art spaces, and educational institutions to refuse future donations from the Sacklers. We intend to hold the Sacklers accountable, and to put social and political pressure on them to respond meaningfully to this crisis.


We demand an immediate response from the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma to this epidemic.

Specifically, we demand that the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma move their money into treatment and education in the following ways:

• We demand that they fund treatment models, including rehab centers and medication assistance programs and support programs that offer strategies for relapse prevention, techniques for harm reduction, and holistic approaches. • We demand that they set up educational programs for schools, doctors, families, and addicts.

• We demand that they reeducate doctors to stop prescribing these medications except for patients who are in extreme pain.

• We demand that they advertise the dangers of their products as aggressively as they sell them to the public.

• We demand that they install public dispensers of Narcan, the medicine that reverses an overdose, on every street corner in America.

• We demand an immediate response to this epidemic, which is out of control.

There is no time to wait!