Sculptor places 700-pound heroin spoon outside Purdue Pharma headquarters

On June 22, artist Domenic Esposito and gallery owner Fernando Luis Alvarez placed a 10-foot-long sculpture, depicting the spoon heroin addicts use to cook the drug before injecting it, outside Purdue Pharma's property, according to The New York Times.

Purdue Pharma is the main manufacturer of the painkilling drug OxyContin. The steel-fashioned spoon sculpture was placed in front of Purdue Pharma's headquarters to shame the company, asserting a connection between its addictive and widely abused drug OxyContin and the opioid epidemic. The artists claim OxyContin leaves thousands of people dependant on addictive painkillers and also serves as a gateway into more potent narcotics, such as heroin.

The sculpture, Mr. Esposito told The New York Times, reflects the experience of a relative who used OxyContin and Percocet experimentally before turning to heroin. His family found similar implements when they thought their family member was in recovery. The bent spoon became an emblem of the relative's struggles, he said.

The sculpture is a part of a larger body of work entitled "Opioid: Express Yourself" on display in Mr. Alvarez's gallery a few blocks away from Purdue Pharma. "I think this is an important matter," Mr. Alvarez told The New York Times. "People are dying."

This is not the first artistic protest Purdue Pharma has seen. In early June, two artists used a projector and beamed messages on the building's exterior, covering the company in words like "cartel," according to the Stamford Advocate.

Mr. Alvarez and Mr. Esposito placed the spoon in the walkway of Purdue Pharma around 8 a.m. June 22. The police were called, and after a heated negotiation, the commander issued Mr. Alvarez a ticket for "obstructing free passage." Police arrested Mr. Alvarez for "interfering with police." He was released later that day and the spoon was removed.

Purdue's spokesperson released a statement reading, "We share the protesters' concern about the opioid crisis and respect their right to peacefully express themselves."

More articles on opioids: 

Schumacher Clinical Partners addresses opioid epidemic
Viewpoint: Opioid treatment calls for more than just new drugs
Opioid overdose deaths sending record number of children into foster care

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