Major institutions are showing their support in the fight against the Opioid Crisis after Purdue Pharma pled guilty to criminal charges over their marketing strategy of OxyContin, a highly addictive painkiller, and agreed to a settlement of $8.3 billion, $225 million of which will be paid personally as part of the civil penalties.
In the late 1990s, the pharmaceutical company assured doctors that the drug was not addictive and misled regulators, and because of that, they began prescribing the pain killer at an ever-increasing rate. Unfortunately, the drug was extremely addicting, leading many to misuse the prescription; in some cases, it acted as a gateway to heroin. It was also uncovered that Purdue Pharma was engaging in a practice called kickbacks, where doctors would receive monetary compensation from the company for prescribing their patients. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a study done in 2018 found that over 130 people died every day from an opioid-related drug overdose; 10.3 million people misused their prescription opioids that year and 808,000 people used heroin. On a personal note, I have not been immune to the opioid crisis; at just 29 years old, I would need both hands to count the number of friends/acquaintances that I have lost because they overdosed.
The Sackler family, who owns Purdue Pharma, has always been philanthropic towards the arts and sciences. Institutions around the globe bear the Sackler name including, the Sackler Institute of Graduate Biomedical Services at New York University, The Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities at the Louvre Museum, and the Sackler Center for Arts Education at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum – and these are just a few.
In support of the movement to end the crisis and honor the lives lost, the institutions mentioned above, have begun to remove the Sackler name, paving the way for others to follow. The Metropolitan Museum of Art who has received hefty donations from the family, including funding for the Sackler Wing, home to the Temple of Dendur, pledged to no longer take donations from the family last year. After the guilty plea, the MET confirmed that name of the wing is now “under review.”