(Image: Eric Molina, Creative Commons)

Three major institutions have announced that they will no longer accept donations from the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma.

The major pharmaceutical company produces OxyContin, the highly addictive painkiller that many have blamed for igniting today’s far-reaching opioid epidemic. Lawsuits against Sackler family members allege that they promoted the drug as a safe everyday painkiller while fully aware of its addictive properties.

While there are many paths to addiction, OxyContin has played an outsized role leading people to heroine usage, as individuals turn to the drug once their prescriptions for opioid painkillers run out.

Drug overdoses in the nation have steadily risen over the past several years. In 2017, nearly 50,000 people died from overdoses involving opioids.

While the legal drama revolving around Purdue Pharma’s addiction profiteering plays out in the courts, major nonprofits that have received donations from the Sacklers in the past are taking a stand. The National Portrait Gallery in England turned down a £1 million donation from the Sackler Trust. The Tate Modern and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum have since followed suit.

As a result, the Sackler Trust has ceased philanthropic activities until further notice.

While these actions matter, there is still more work to be done. Nan Goldin, the prominent U.S. photographer and leader of the activist group Prescription Addiction Intervention Now (PAIN), suggested an alternative use for the trust’s resources: “There’s 300,000 people dead in this country. Their money should go to in some way pay for all the damage they’ve done.”


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