A feud erupted on Instagram last week between rock musician Courtney Love and Joss Sackler, the wife of David Sackler, whose family’s pharmaceutical company, Purdue Pharma, manufactures OxyContin.
It was initially reported on pagesix.com that Sackler offered the reformed addict $100,000 to attend a show for her fashion label, LBV. But as the Hole frontwoman said in the 1998 hit, Celebrity Skin, “I’m not selling cheap”; she declined the offer as a matter of principle.
What followed was a six-day Instagram war. “F*** OxyContin. I do NOT F*** WITH IT,” Love posted. Captioning a photograph of an Oxy bottle, “Shame. Shame. Shame”, her followers noting the contradictory nature of its directions: while the recommended dose is 10-20mg, the instructions warn against breaking or crushing the 80mg pill.
Sackler claims Love misrepresented the emails between their publicists and that Love just wants more money. Screenshots posted by Sackler, tagging Love and captioned “fake news” say, “money would have to be higher” and “$275K minimum”.
However another says that it’s “probably not” going to happen as “CL” is “sober”, is “taking her sobriety very seriously”, would like to “protect her image as much as possible” and that the association with Sackler’s wine club as well as pharmaceuticals here is a “tough one”.
Love responded that she asked for the money – not for herself – but for charity to help addicts. She responds to a follower, “you don’t know the half of it … you gotta see the calloused way her people toss off our questions about donating money to MusiCares etc. like we’re being imperious peasants”.
A screenshot of a text message posted by Love says, “we would really like to make this work”, claiming LBV has no affiliation with Purdue Pharma and that news would run the following Monday showing the family has put forth “eight figures” towards supporting addicts.
But on Monday, Love called Sackler a “lying piece of s***” and asked, “SHOW US THE 8 FUGURE ADDICT ETC. CHARITIES @jossackler IT’S MONDAY.”
While there is no evidence of a charitable donation, the Wall Street Journal previously reported that Purdue Pharma, whose Australian arm is Mundipharma, was considering an eight-figure amount to settle 2000 lawsuits, including by 45 US States, relating to deceptive marketing practices which have been blamed for the opioid epidemic in the US.
In response to criticism by the New York Times in February, Sackler responded on Facebook that her family “have nothing to do with LBV”, spoke of women’s empowerment and claimed critics were trying to “relegate my identity to only being someone’s wife, thereby erasing any signs of my successes or accomplishments as a woman.”
Clearly, this is what Love was referring to when she posted last week: “Eva Braun was just an empowered woman who married into the Hitler family also. Bummer Joss.” Sharing an image of the gold eagle breastplate she was asked to wear at the LBV fashion show, the singer likened it to the symbolism of the “Third Reich”.
She also shared and praised the work of artist Nan Goldin, known for her photography of transgender people. Goldin’s protest group, PAIN, demonstrated last Thursday at the headquarters of Purdue Pharma in Connecticut, holding a banner saying, “Shame on Sackler. 200 dead each day” with orange prescription pill bottles scattered on the ground.
Love’s posts have attracted an outpouring of support from her 922,000 followers, who have shared tragic accounts of losing loved ones to prescription drug addiction. Some were prescribed OxyContin for the most minor of ailments. The strong pain medication was even prescribed to people with mental illness. Some turned to crime to pay their medical debts. Some even turned to heroin when their health insurance no longer covered Oxy. Some are raising those orphaned by the drug. And others tell of the hoops they must jump through to access natural, alternative therapies.
One follower, @rebellious_barbie18 writes: “‘Take this it will help with the pain’ They’re not addictive I promise.’ This is what the doctors told my father before taking them for his back pain. Growing up all I saw him do was sleep and take this horrible drug that ruined his being. NO MORE!”
Love has taken the time to reply to most of them: “I was an early adopter … 1989 or so easy, but everyday I’m not on it is a great day that I can help somebody.” She shares her research from “Australian agricultural blogs” on the highly addictive, modified poppy which is grown in our very own Tasmania, as well as the Nichiren Buddhist chanting which helped her beat her addiction.