Art Van Zee is a doctor in impoverished Lee County, Virginia, who looks a little like Abraham Lincoln. He’s cited by writer Barry Meier as being one of the first people to raise the alarm about the opioid epidemic. Married to Sue Ella Kobak, and frequently collaborating with fellow activist Sister Beth Davies and health administrator Sue Cantrell, Van Zee becomes a leader in the grassroots movement to expose the harmful effects of OxyContin. Originally from Nevada, and educated at Vanderbilt, Van Zee moves to Virginia in order to help a medically underserved community, and he quickly gains a reputation as an excellent doctor. He is concerned, however, when he sees the effects that opioids are having on his local community—and how many of his peers in medicine are overprescribing OxyContin, apparently buying in to marketing hype without considering the consequences. It’s only after going to public meetings and following the news in other parts of the country that Van Zee learns that the opioid crisis isn’t just a locally issue—it’s impacting communities across the country. Van Zee begins aggressively contacting the Sackler family’s Purdue Pharma (creator of OxyContin) and even gets a meeting with their medical director, Dr. J. David Haddox, but for the most part, the company refuses to hear his warnings about the addictive properties of OxyContin. Van Zee faces a difficult decision when Purdue offers grants of $100,000 to help Appalachian communities affected by opioids (although the “grants” are really more like bribes to silence opponents). Van Zee initially thinks the money could do a lot of good, but Sister Beth talks him and the others out of accepting it, arguing that it’s never good to take “blood money.” Van Zee eventually sees Purdue Pharma executives put on trial for their role in creating the opioid crisis, but the sentences end up being relatively light, and the Sackler family avoids any serious consequences. Van Zee represents the persistence of activists in the early opioid crisis. It took outsiders like Van Zee to challenge accepted wisdom in the medical community about opioids, and while these outsiders were often frustrated and often fell short of their goals, they still played a key role in drawing greater attention to the issue.