What did he take? I don’t know… I don’t know sorry. Okay let me get my gloves on. I’m going to hit him with Narcan, okay? What’s his name baby? It’s a deadly addiction claiming more lives
than car crashes or even gun violence. Where’s 108? Tear open package and remove pads. It is now safe to touch the patient. Start CPR. More than 900 Americans from all walks of
life now die each week from opioid drug overdoses. It’s a national crisis triggered by pain
killer pills. What I want the American people to know, the
Federal Government is aggressively fighting the opioid epidemic on all fronts. Two million Americans are now addicted to
prescription or illicit opioids – four times the number of twenty years ago – and a brand
called Oxycontin led the way. That drug just about wiped this county out. It was so powerful. There are more injection drug users in San
Francisco, than there are high school students. The scale of it is absolutely huge. It’s block after block after block of people
of all ages, races and gender in various stages of addiction. Some looking like they’re right near the
end of their journey, others just starting out to go down the same dangerous road and
I have to say it’s really confronting seeing so much of this. On the streets of New York, protestors are
clear on who to blame for the opioid crisis. The Sackler family are American Establishment. They built a $13 billion dollar fortune upon
their private company Purdue Pharma. Purdue created Oxycontin, a highly addictive
prescription painkiller. It’s an opioid, double the strength of morphine. People die. Sackler’s lie! The Sackler’s are big philanthropists, donating
millions to America’s prestigious museums and galleries. I was addicted to Oxycontin. They were trying to say that it was for peace
of mind and social calm. I took it for those reasons and I ended up
locked in my room for three years. Renowned photographer, Nan Goldin, leads a
campaign to shame these grand institutions into rejecting the Sackler dollars. We’re here to call out the Sackler family
who’ve become synonymous with the opioid crisis. We’re here to call out all the museums who
allow the Sackler name to line their halls, tarnish their wing, who honour the family
who made billions off the bodies of hundreds of thousands. Inside the Sackler funded Guggenheim Museum,
a reminder of a boast by Purdue President Richard Sackler that Oxycontin would generate
a blizzard of prescriptions and billions in profits. And the Sackler’s continue to profit off
the bodies of four hundred thousand people. The elusive Sackler’s never speak to the
media. But now, across America, the victims are coming
for the family in a fight back that could become the biggest class action in US history. We have to bring down the Sackler family. They should be in gaol, next to El Chapo. Deep in the Appalachian Mountains of West
Virginia rise the town of Welch. Capital of McDowell County, one of the poorest
in the country. McDowell leads the nation in per capita overdose
deaths. About 20% of the community is addicted to
pills, heroin, alcohol or ice. The abuse is largely hidden behind crumbling
facades. There’s a burnt out building there… used
to be a school building. McDowell County was a thriving county at one
time, early 50s and late 60s and even in the 70s when I graduated from high school in 1973. Anyone could get a job anywhere that you wanted
to with the mining industry. Martin West is County Sheriff. This former miner witnessed the decline of
the local coal industry and downward spiral. The County has probably torn down hundreds
of houses that have become dilapidated and people have moved out and left, went to other
states and other counties. A part time missionary who served in Haiti,
is now trying to save his own community. People wouldn’t think that this is America. No. Honestly, it’s like being in Haiti. It’s been pretty bad. You couldn’t find a job and people turned
to drugs and alcohol because they were overwhelmed with the depression and the mental anguish
that they were suffering. It’s just like the pharmaceutical company,
a billion dollar industry, they find depressed areas and they know lots of people there got
problems and then they introduce them to this and that – pills and drugs of any type. And that’s what they do. Patients in pain often have problems finding
effective relief. Purdue aggressively exploited this ready-made
market with its new high potency pain killer, Oxycontin – even giving out free starter
packs. Less than 1% of patients taking opioids actually
become addicted. What was an end of life medication, was at
the Sackler’s direction, dispensed for everything from emotional distress to bad backs. This medication does not turn you into a zombie. It has turned me into an active person again. I got my life back. Now I can enjoy every day that I live. I can really enjoy myself. I am kind of ashamed of it but I’m honest
enough to say, yeah I’ve been down the beaten path before. I’m trying to clean up and I have been for
a minute now. Just trying to do better and stay that way. A month out of rehab and Rocky Kuhn is determined
to break the grip of addiction that’s devastated his family. My mother, of all people, my mum, she did
it. She battled it. She was a… a lot of the doctors they’ve
been getting arrested for writing prescriptions and my mum’s doctor was one. My mum died. She died in a car wreck but addiction was
her best friend. I know me personally I didn’t do drugs. My mum died, my life fell to pieces and I
jumped headfirst into all of them. Rocky grew up in a neighbouring county. It wasn’t just at home but at school too
that he was mourning the casualties of Oxycontin addiction. In my graduating class, probably a third of
them are dead already. I’m just thirty-three years old. There’s no sense in it. It’s all drugs. It’s fed into the community that’s just…
we didn’t have a chance. None of them, nobody had a chance. It’s just addiction is a real thing. I started when I was twelve. I had five state championships, Tri-State
Golden Gloves Championship. Rocky’s dad, a local schoolteacher, put
together this boxing gym to get people off the street and away from poverty and drugs. Redemption in the ring. This is my world. I love this place. I love boxing. It’s a way of talking. It’s one way of getting to know somebody,
when you throw hands with them and you earn respect. Other places that I used to live in, I find
the trouble. And at least here, I’m on my skateboard
or I’m in the gym or I’m working out, you know and it’s something more productive
than street life. Just down the road in the town of War, is
one source of McDowell County’s misery. We had a drug bust up here about a couple
of weeks ago, we arrested about eight and every time we get out like this and go up
and down the different areas of the county, people will come up to me and want to give
me a drug tip. But the biggest dealers were legal, pharmacies
like this one, dispensing massive quantities of what derisively became known as Hillbilly
Heroin – in total, 12 million pills were dumped in a county of only 20,000 people – pushed
by compliant doctors and pharmacists. These are the small operations, they call
them pill mills and they were closed down because of the situation. We’ve had several of them within McDowell
County and this is one of them. They’re wanting to make the money fast and
see how much damage they can do is what my observation of them is. Sheriff West is furious that it took 15 years
before tighter controls were finally imposed on Oxycontin. In 2007 Purdue was fined $880 million dollars
for misleading doctors and patients on the drug’s addiction risks. By then, it was too late. That drug just about wiped this County out
it was so powerful. And it was the talk of the town and the talk
of the county, the talk of the state. And every night on the news you’d hear of
someone dying in the state or in other states because of Oxycontin. And it was so addictive and they knew that,
the pharmaceuticals knew that. Welch has been ground zero of America’s
opioid crisis for about 2 decades now and while it’s slowly strangling the life out
of towns and cities like this, it’s also spreading like wildfire right across the United
States. On the other side of the country, in one of
the biggest, most vibrant and best prepared cities with a long history of harm reduction,
they’re being swamped by the next wave of this crisis. San Francisco. Liberal. Rich. Tech capital of the world. Despite decades of experience in progressive
drug treatment, forged at the height of the AIDS crisis, the city’s buckling under the
weight of addiction. Downtown injecting drug user numbers have
tripled since the crisis first struck far off Appalachia. Though harm reduction programs have kept the
death toll lower than other cities. Don’t try this at home. There are more injection drug users in San
Francisco, about 25,000, than there are high school students – 16,000. And just a couple of blocks from here is probably
the highest level of population that we see in street use in heroin and homelessness. Inside City Hall there’s growing fury at
the Sackler family and their pharmaceutical company, Purdue. City Attorney, Dennis Herrera makes a direct
link between pills and heroin. Absolutely. I mean if you look at it, four of five injectable
drug users started on getting opioids, whether it be Oxycontin, prescription or non-prescription
pill taking. So there is a direct correlation between the
two. How much of a burden is this on your community
trying to deal with the mess of this opioid crisis? It’s incalculable. It’s hundreds of millions of dollars that
the taxpayers of San Francisco are forced to expend because of in some, at least to
some degree, for problems created by others. In terms of effort, we have been a pioneer. In terms of result, demonstrating the magnitude
of the problem, we have been overwhelmed. San Francisco has no joined 1600 other cities
and counties in suing Purdue Pharma and 8 Sackler family members who profit from the
company. It makes sense that we would use the full
power of our legal arsenal to make sure that those responsible for creating this epidemic
are held to account. The family itself from Purdue gets about,
I think it’s a billion dollars a year that inures to them in terms of payments that go
to the family as a result of sales of Oxycontin. That’s extraordinary! A lot of money. So they’re profiting while much of the rest
of the country is suffering. I think that’s a fair statement. On the streets, George has been living rough
for a while. He now shoots up heroin, but says nearly everyone
in this alley got their first taste with Oxycontin. Probably everybody started like that. Because that’s how you’re introduced to
the drugs you know is by pills. And little by little it’s like your money
gets tight, and you’re just like well where, where can I get something close to this but
cheaper? And then heroin, you know? I do sort of think that those pharmaceutical
companies do play a big role. That’s why my mom always used to tell me,
don’t trust doctors. They’re not your friend. You know, these doctors here are not anywhere
near your friend. Did your family contact you at all? What? Remember I helped you get shoes one day with
your mom. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Police here know the users. They have to balance treating this as a health
crisis, as well as a criminal problem, aware that George is battling to pay the multiple
daily hits of Mexican heroin. It’s just like a dime, you know ten bucks. You know ten bucks will get you, you know
a cool high. On a daily basis I probably spend like $50
to $80. It’s clear that addiction doesn’t discriminate. All over America it’s going on right now. And it’s all the youth, you know, is being
hooked on this shit. I just think it’s embarrassing you know
other countries aren’t going through this. There’s still poverty, a sense of desperation. There’s still public drug dealing and drug
use. San Francisco based drug expert, Professor
Dan Ciccarone travels the country, mapping the wreckage of the opioid crisis. He’s tracked Oxycontin use morphine to a
second wave of heroin injecting and now into an even deadlier third wave, a synthetic opioid
called Fentanyl, coming in from Mexico and China. Fentanyl’s about 40 times as potent by weight
as heroin. And so because of that sheer potency, we’re
concerned that it’s too much for the typical human to consume, therefore a higher risk
of overdose. There’s also a new, a fourth wave if you
will coming up right behind the opioid crisis which is stimulants. East Coast cocaine, West Coast methamphetamine,
we’re seeing a lot of new meth users out here. They’re mixing meth and heroin. I think we’re about half way through it. And I know that’s terrible bad news, but
if you see the rate of decline now, we are seeing a levelling off in the pill overdose
death, we are seeing a levelling off of heroin only overdose death. The Fentanyl curve is still going up. It’ll take ten years to get to baseline. George may not have that long. He’s graduated from pills – to heroin mixed
with meth – that’s now laced with Fentanyl. The daily fix has become a raging habit. Whoever is putting that shit into all the
drugs is smart because Fentanyl’s very addictive so if you spike that shit in very drug, every
user’s gonna feel it. You wonder why you keep coming back so quick
to get a hit, it’s because of the fucking Fentanyl in that shit, you know? That’s why I know I’m coming back every
thirty minutes for this shit. Because I could get high and go about my day,
but now it’s like that’s just calling me you know? It’s like you know it’s like a real, it’s
a fucking, like a King Kong on my back. We’ve been in all of these hotels here. We’ve taught people overdose prevention,
we’ve done HIV tests. Paul Harkin is another who knows these streets
better than most, delivering syringes and disease tests to the homeless. Like in the city there’s about a 122-ish
of these single room occupancy hotels, you know low income, some people are only allowed
to stay for 90 days. He’s a Director at GLIDE, a social justice
movement founded by the United Methodist Church, that for half a century has been saving lives. Organisations like GLIDE Harm Reduction are
absolutely what’s required to get us to begin to dismantle the war on drugs and start
to treat drug users with compassion and with evidence based intervention. From the last numbers we have were 2017 I
believe there was 72,000 overdose deaths nationally. I mean it’s just an incredible volume of
mostly preventable deaths. And our people in harm reduction know that
there has always been an opioid crisis in other communities and what we’ve seen here
is the changing demographics where more white people are being impacted by this. On any given night, we’ll give out maybe
3,000 to 5,000 syringes to people who inject drugs. Usually we give maybe 7 or 8 NARCAN kits for
people to prevent overdose. So the purpose of what you’re doing now
is to stop the spread of disease primarily. That’s the primary thing you know but, you
know what I’d say that’s part of it, but I’d say also part of it is just connecting
people. Then when the FDA started to clamp down on
Oxycontin, what we saw then was a lot of people who had developed the habit of having to switch
to heroin and we saw a sort of explosion of people looking for heroin and then subsequently
fentanyl. We’re seeing more fentanyl enter cuts in
the drugs and overdose deaths this year are going to be up. I’ve OD’ed several times and I’m still
here. You know I’ve tried to hurt myself a few
times too … I’ve been through it. Alicia has been using drugs for decades and
knows the reality of that deadly shift. Right now I’m really struggling right now
because I’m out here by myself. My family members now… they won’t hardly
talk to me too much anymore because of where I’m at and what I’m doing. Just across town, GLIDE’s gospel choir reaches
out to San Francisco’s elite. Love is the answer. They mingle with America’s most famous recovering
Oxycontin addict, former Democratic Congressman, Patrick Kennedy. Son of a late Senator, nephew of an assassinated
President. He deploys the political star power of the
family name. There’s no question that this was a drug
that knew no socioeconomic, gender, background. It really was meant for anybody who was unsuspecting
and if that person also had a high propensity for addiction as I did, then it was off to
the races the moment it was prescribed. Love is the answer. They over marketed a clearly addictive drug
called Oxycontin, knowing full well that it was addictive, much like the tobacco industry
knew for generations that cigarettes were addictive but refused to acknowledge it. Tonight is about fund raising for hospital
beds to treat those felled by the spin cycle of drug addiction, mental illness and homelessness. If it’s good enough for cardio vascular
disease, if it’s good enough for cancer, it ought to be good enough for mental illness
and addiction which affects every single family in this great country of ours. Thank you very much. It’s a test Kennedy says the Trump White
House and Congress are failing miserably, allocating barely 20% of the funds dedicated
to fight HIV at the height of the AIDS crisis. I was serving on the President Trump’s opioid
panel on recommendations to fight this epidemic and I was shocked knowing as we all do, that
President Trump comes from a family that has been impacted by alcoholism and addiction,
that he would not take this historic moment and really run with it. The well-heeled crowd dig deep, a half a million-dollar
pledge here, a million-dollar donation there. Patrick Kennedy wants billions more from the
Sackler family and Purdue Pharma. There is no doubt in my mind that we’re
going to get a tobacco sized verdict against Purdue Pharma and those who are also culpable
in this conspiracy and this corruption. Purdue Pharma continues to deny any responsibility,
accusing critics of exaggeration, blaming users and drug dealers for the crisis. The company’s considering declaring bankruptcy
to head off the looming avalanche of lawsuits. 130 Americans now die of opioid overdoses
every day. Time is not on the side of those at the bottom
of the opioid spiral – they may not live to see a settlement. You know when you’re involved in an addiction
like this, it’s hard. And it’s sad, you know? Because you feel so lost and alone. You feel like you have nobody.