PAIN Activist Claims Surveillance by Sackler-Hired Investigators

April 22, 2021

A member of PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now), the advocacy group founded by artist Nan Goldin, says she was tailed by a man whom she and her compatriots believe to be an investigator hired by members of the Sackler family, widely known for their role in the Purdue Pharma scandal, Hyperallergic reports.

Megan Kapler described seeing a man observing her from a distance as she departed Goldin’s Brooklyn home in fall 2019; she spied the same man outside her own home shortly thereafter, appearing to take pictures of her with his cell phone. The following week, she saw him again outside Goldin’s apartment.

“We’ve been warned since the onset of PAIN that there could be tactics of intimidation physically or digitally, but no amount of precautions can prepare you for being followed,” said Kapler’s PAIN colleagues in a statement. “It is a complete violation of your safety and it has lasting effects.”

Goldin established PAIN in 2017 after battling an OxyContin addiction in the wake of an injury for which she was prescribed the drug by her doctor. The group successfully lobbied a number of major arts institutions to refuse or return money from the Sackler family, members of which were enriched by Purdue Pharma, OxyContin’s maker. Purdue recently settled a massive lawsuit that centered around its practice of aggressively marketing the opioid while downplaying the drug’s highly addictive qualities.

Kapler’s experience is detailed in the recently released Empire of Pain: The History of the Sackler Family, by Patrick Radden Keefe, who in the volume’s afterword describes his own experience of being surveilled while writing the book.

Neither Kapler nor Keefe was able to confirm that the Sacklers or Purdue was behind the surveillance they experienced. “I can tell you I wasn’t working on any other projects at the time,” Keefe told NPR’s Terry Gross, “and that when I asked [the Sacklers], actually, in a request for comment whether they were responsible for this, they declined to comment.” Keefe additionally said that Purdue denied knowledge of the surveillance when he asked the company about it.