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Question of the Week — Should Big Pharma Be Publicly Shamed for Its Role in the Opioid Crisis?

Posted  March 4, 2019

Domenic Esposito, a sculptor from Massachusetts, has placed a 10-foot long sculpture of a burnt heroin spoon-the kind used by heroin addicts to melt heroin before injecting it-in front of the Rhode Island headquarters of Rhodes Pharmaceuticals. Today, Rhodes Pharmaceuticals is among the largest producers of generic opioids in the U.S. It is also a sister company of Purdue Pharma, which, along with other opioid makers, is being sued by a host of state and local governments for allegedly helping to create the opioid epidemic through deceptive marketing and other practices.

Esposito has said his artwork was inspired by his younger brother’s 12-year addiction to opioids. According to Esposito, “there hasn’t been much education about who is accountable for this opioid epidemic.” Much as alleged by governmental entities suing opioid makers, Esposito maintains that the epidemic was part of a “huge marketing business plan established by a handful of corporations who wanted to profit at the expensive of lives.” He says that the purpose of his artwork is “about exposing this web of influence that big pharma has had on us.”

This isn’t the spoon’s first appearance. In June, Esposito placed his sculpture in front of Purdue Pharma’s headquarters to protest the company’s actions. He then moved the sculpture to the Massachusetts State House in October to thank Attorney General Maura Healey, who has sued Purdue Pharma for allegedly misleading doctors and patients about the dangers of opioids.

Esposito is a member of the Spoon Movement, a group of activists seeking to hold Big Pharma accountable for the opioid crisis.

Should Big Pharma be publicly shamed for its alleged role in the opioid epidemic?

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