Protesters took the Guggenheim Museum in New York by storm on Saturday as they called for the museum to remove the Sackler name from one of its iconic wings -- funded by the family that owns Purdue Pharma, which created and manufactured OxyContin.
Some activists staged a "die-in," lying on the floors of the museum, while others tossed leaflets and fake prescriptions from the stairwells, which included banners reading "Shame on Sackler." The family's section of the Guggenheim, The Sackler Center for Arts and Education, is an 8,200-square foot wing containing multimedia labs and lecture theatres gifted to the museum in 2001, according to the Huffington Post. The Sackler family also has wings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Louvre in Paris.
Saturday's protest is the latest public outcry for revered institutions to part ways with the controversial family, which stands accused of falsely advertising OxyContin as a safe alternative for morphine, leading to what critics have said is mass overprescription and kickstarting the modern opioid crisis.
Leaflets dropped from the ceiling were designed to look like prescription pads, listing the patient as Solomon R. Guggenheim and the prescriber as Richard Sackler, former president of Purdue Pharma. An ongoing lawsuit against Purdue by the Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey accuses Richard Sackler of actively misleading patients and doctors about the safety of OxyContin, despite knowing its risks.
“The launch of OxyContin Tablets will be followed by a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition. The prescription blizzard will be so deep, dense, and white,” Richard once said, according to court documents.
Hundreds of cities, counties and states have filed lawsuits against Purdue Pharma for the harm their drug has done to communities, but the lawsuit in Massachusetts is the first to name the company's executives as personally liable.
It was recently reported that opioid overdoses are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and that Americans are more likely to die of an opioid overdose than in a car crash. According to CDC statistics, nearly 218,000 died from prescription opioid overdoses alone from 1999 to 2017.
Fox News has contacted the Guggenheim for a comment on the recent protest.