The Oscars are coming up and of course there’s a pharma angle among the dozens of nominees.
However, beyond a mere retrospective of her esteemed artistic career, the film details Goldin’s addiction to OxyContin, the highly-addictive drug produced by Purdue Pharma, and the role of the Sackler family, which owned the company, in profiting off the nation’s decades-long opioid epidemic.
Goldin, like many, had her life upended by OxyContin and remains understandably aggrieved by the behavior of the Sacklers, as All the Beauty and the Bloodshed shows.
“My anger at the Sackler family is personal,” Goldin said in the film. “When you think about the profit off of people’s pain, you can only be furious.”
Directed by Oscar-winning director Laura Poitras, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed features interviews with several people suffering from opioid addiction and delves into the shady business practices and aggressive sales tactics of Purdue Pharma.
While there is no exact number on how many people became addicted to OxyContin, the wide-scale marketing, promoting and prescribing of opioids in its wake contributed to decades of pain across the U.S. According to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths topped 107,000 in 2021.
In 2020, Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to criminal wrongdoing for misleading doctors, patients and regulators about the dangers of OxyContin. While an initial federal settlement totaled more than $8 billion, the drugmaker subsequently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. As part of the reorganization plan, the Sackler family was ordered in 2021 to pay $4.3 billion over nine years to compensate for thousands of cases of people harmed by OxyContin.
In 2022, a federal judge overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings ultimately approved a $6 billion settlement funded by the Sacklers but the deal was opposed by the Department of Justice and 20 other states.
Perhaps the most poignant narrative in the film highlights the Sackler family’s significant art patronage and Goldin’s direct action efforts to protest their contributions to art galleries and museums across the world. The documentary features footage of public protests at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others.
In 2017, Goldin founded P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) in response to the opioid crisis and now advocates for harm reduction protocols. Another key function of P.A.I.N. is to hold art galleries, museums and cultural institutions around the world accountable for accepting donations from the Sacklers in light of their connection to the opioid crisis.
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed is yet another example of Hollywood’s fascination with healthcare-centered stories in recent years, especially as it relates to the Sacklers.