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Tufts to Remove Sackler Name from Medical Campus

The school will not return donations from the family that made its riches on opioids, but the university will start a $3 million endowment for addiction prevention and treatment.

Dec 9, 2019
Emily Makowski

ABOVE: ALEJANDRO RAMIREZ-CISNEROS, TUFTS UNIVERSITY

Tufts University is stripping the Sackler name from its school of graduate biomedical sciences, medical education building, and medical school programs “immediately,” according to an announcement on the university’s website last Thursday (December 5).

The removal of the name from Tufts programs and buildings in downtown Boston is the latest in a series of pushbacks from schools and museums against the family that owns OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma. The Louvre recently dropped the name from one of its wings, according to STAT, and London’s Science Museum was criticized for complying with the family to repurpose a donation, reports The Guardian.

The Sacklers and Purdue Pharma have given about $15 million total to Tufts since 1980, and some of the research they funded was specifically related to pain management. The school will not return the donated money, but plans to start a $3 million endowment for addiction prevention and treatment, reports STAT

A review conducted by independent attorneys of the university’s relationship with the family found that while there was no evidence of the Sackler connection affecting instruction or research, Tufts officials “may have provided favored treatment to the Sacklers and Purdue or acted to avoid controversy related to them,” according to the announcement.

“The Tufts University School of Medicine’s values include a commitment to relieve suffering, improve quality of life, and promote integrity and social responsibility. Given the human toll of the opioid epidemic in which members of the Sackler family and their company Purdue Pharma are associated, it is clear that continuing to display the Sackler name is inconsistent with these values,” says Tufts University President Anthony Monaco in a statement, according to Tufts Now.

An attorney for the Sacklers says that the family is seeking to have the decision reversed, reports the Associated Press.

See “Universities Grapple with Donor Behavior

Emily Makowski is an intern at The Scientist. Email her at emakowski@the-scientist.com.

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