After Purdue Pharma’s announcement of Bankruptcy earlier this month, and the rising public awareness of the company’s hand in the opioid crisis, many institutions have begun severing ties with the Sackler Family—the family who owns Purdue. While to some it may seem like a slap on the wrist to the Sackler’s, the numerous institutions cutting ties is a relevant and important backlash—one which will tarnish the family’s “clean” slate. The Sackler’s have worked strenuously to try and boast their public image, but now their fame is at long last falling into infamy.
Yale University has begun denied donations from the Sackler Family and has been working on severing as many ties with the family as it can. The Sackler’s provided funding to Yale’s School of Medicine and the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Institute of Biological, Physical and Engineering sciences. Thomas Pollard, Director of the Sackler Institute explained the namesake will remain to support the broader spectrum of the sciences. The University Spokesperson, Karen Peart, told the news that Yale is dedicated to research that will “combat” the harmful effects of the opioid crisis. Eileen O’Conner, former Vice President of the University, explained in 2017 that in order to change the name of a benefactor’s institution, the University would need permission from the donor. Yale has recognized the privileges of the gifts received from the Sackler Family but does not waver when condemning the family for their involvement in the opioid crisis.
Brown University has begun redirecting all donations from the Sackler Family’s institution, La Foundation Sackler, to Rhode Island charities that are aiming to help those effected by the opioid crisis. Brown University has redirected over $1 million from the foundation due to the “extensive demonstratable harm” cause by Purdue Pharma. This is noted to be the first time in recent university history that charitable donations have been redirected. According to the Brown Daily Herald, “The Sackler family donated $100,000 to Brown’s Annual Fund, which supports general University operations. The University has already redirected that gift to CODAC Behavioral Healthcare, a Rhode Island-based nonprofit organization that provides outpatient treatment for opioid use disorder.” The University Vice President Cass Cliatt wrote in a statement that ““There are no plans to receive gifts in the foreseeable future. Brown has no programs, initiatives or buildings bearing the Sackler name.”
As more news unfolds and as public opinion denouncing the Sackler’s and Purdue Pharma increases, more and more universities are facing pressure to reconsider donations and gifts from “dubious” sources, and many students and faculty around the country are beginning to urge universities to be more mindful of whom they accept donations from. These two instances of Yale and Brown cutting ties with the Sackler’s may only be the beginning of the fallout the Family justly deserves.