National Portrait Gallery Sackler, Purdue Pharma’s Sackler family.
A British art gallery has decided it won’t take 1 million pound ($1.3 million) pledge from a charitable organization run by Purdue Pharma’s Sackler family.
In a statement on Wednesday, the National Portrait Gallery said that “recent reporting of allegations made against Sackler family members may cause this new donation to deflect the National Portrait Gallery from its important work.” Without listing those allegations, which center on Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin and the drug’s possible influence on the U.S. opioid crisis, the gallery said that while the Sacklers, which own Purdue Pharma through family trusts, have “vigorously denied” any wrongdoing, it doesn’t want the allegations to be “a distraction” for its work.
Purdue Pharma and other prominent drug makers have found themselves in the crosshairs in lawsuits across the U.S. Those lawsuits, which have largely come from state governments and local municipalities, allege that the companies that sell painkillers haven’t done enough to educate users on health risks. They also allege that the drug makers have put their own sales interests ahead of public health. Ultimately, the lawsuits suggest the companies have played a role in the U.S. opioid crisis.
While the drug makers have denied those allegations, the lawsuits have hurt their efforts in other areas, like philanthropy. Some activists have boycotted and held protests at places where charitable organizations accept donations from companies or families that sell painkillers. Like the National Portrait Gallery, other organizations have stayed far away from the companies to sidestep any involvement in the controversy.