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the sackler trust has suspended all new UK donations

The Sackler family is at the centre of a lawsuit over its production of painkiller Oxycontin and its connection the US opioid crisis.

by Roisin Lanigan
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Mar 25 2019, 4:58pm

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This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

The Anglo-American Sackler family -- members of which founded the controversial pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma -- are no longer donating to UK institutions. The family are at the centre of a lawsuit over their production of painkiller Oxycontin and its connection the US opioid crisis. Now UK organisations are distancing themselves from the family’s Trust and its philanthropy.

Last week the National Portrait Gallery caused a stir when it became the first major art institution to refuse a sizeable grant from the Sacklers. The Tate quickly followed suit with an announcement that it would not be accepting further donations from the family, along with New York’s Guggenheim museum (who have received $9 million from the Sacklers over many years).

Now the Sackler Trust -- which has donated over £60 million to British organisations in the past eight years -- has tried to put a lid on the growing scandal by halting all new charitable donations in the UK.

The controversy stems from the Sackler family’s connection to Purdue Pharma. The drug company, founded by members of the billionaire family, is the supplier of painkiller Oxycontin, which has been a major contributor to the opioid crisis gripping the United States. The Sackler Trust denies claims the family is linked to the opioid epidemic, but it admitted all the same that the row had become a distraction for the family’s philanthropic efforts.

"I am deeply saddened by the addiction crisis in America and support the actions Purdue Pharma is taking to help tackle the situation, whilst still rejecting the false allegations made against the company and several members of the Sackler family," Dame Theresa Sackler, chair of The Sackler Trust, said in a statement.

"The Trustees of the Sackler Trust have taken the difficult decision to temporarily pause all new philanthropic giving, while still honouring existing commitments."

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.