AP NEWS

Painkiller protester takes on Purdue in Stamford

May 6, 2019

STAMFORD — A Massachusetts man came to Stamford Monday with his nearly 300 empty pill bottles that he collected for 15 years and set up his pill bottle sculpture outside Purde Pharma headquarters on Tresser Boulevard to bring awareness of the addictive properties of the drug maker’s products.

Worcester resident Frank Huntley, 51, said he came to Stamford to, “Save lives and open eyes.” Huntley said he was hooked on OxyContin, which is made by Purdue Pharma, for a decade and one-half and pointed to the sculpture of bottles with a plastic skull on top.

“Look, this was me for 15 years. This drug controlled me very day, and every minute of my day, okay. For the last six years I have been trying to save myself.

Huntley said he was going try to say in front of the building all day long and he is hoping people notice he is there. Police showed up at about 8:35 a.m., a few minutes after he arrived, and told him that if he did not bother people and remained on the sidewalk he would be able to stay.

That was not the case in June 2018 when Massachusetts artist Domenic Esposito set a colossal spoon as a symbol of what heroin addicts have to use to shoot the drug and placed in front of Purdue Pharma last June. Esposito was arrested and his spoon was seized by Stamford police. Esposito was allowed to enter a court diversionary program and the 800-pound spoon was returned.

Many cities and states, including Connecticut, have sued Purdue Pharma over alleged deceptive marketing of its drugs like OxyContin, which many believe directly fueled the nationwide opioid epidemic.

Huntley said he was a painter and wallpaperer 15 years ago when he injured his shoulder and back. After two surgeries in 1998 he was prescribed OxyContin and quickly became addicted.

“This could happen to any one of us and this is happening to us, thousands of us,” he said.

jnickerson@stamfordadvocate.com