Amid mounting public pressure, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has decided to stop taking donations from the Sackler family. Critics hold the family responsible for the current opioid crisis, given that the company they own—Purdue Pharma—developed the highly addictive painkiller known as OxyContin.
OxyContin, which is available via prescription, belongs to a class of drugs known as opioids. Other drugs that are classified as opioids include heroin and its synthetic counterpart, fentanyl. Those who become hooked on OxyContin will often turn to these illegal substances when their prescription runs out or they can no longer afford the high cost of OxyContin.
Hundreds of deaths stemming from opioid addiction have caused multiple states to sue Purdue Pharma for “deceptively pushing powerful painkillers and misrepresenting the drugs’ safety.” The growing scrutiny has also put pressure on nonprofit institutions to stop accepting money from the Sackler family.
But rejecting contributions from a wealthy source is not an easy decision for the Met. The Sackler family has donated so much money to the institution that an entire wing of the museum is named in their honor.
“The Sackler family has graciously supported the Met for 50 years and has not proposed any new contributions,” said Met president and CEO Daniel Weiss. “Nonetheless, in consideration of the ongoing litigation, the prudent course of action at this time is to suspend acceptance of gifts from individuals associated with this public health crisis.”
“While the allegations against our family are false and unfair, we understand that accepting gifts at this time would put the Met in a difficult position,” the Sackler family responded. “We respect the Met and that is the last thing we would want to do. Our goal has always been to support the valuable work of such outstanding organizations, and we remain committed to doing so.”