Tufts University cuts ties with the family behind OxyContin

BOSTON (AP) - Tufts University is breaking ties with the multimillion-dollar family that owns OxyContin's manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, saying it will remove Sackler's name from its campus and accept no more donations amid concerns about the role of the family in the opioid crisis. University officials announced the decision on Thursday, ending a relationship that extended for almost four decades and contributed $ 15 million to the school's medical and science programs. Tufts leaders said they considered the problem for more than a year before concluding that it is inconsistent with the school's values ​​to show the family's name. “We had to deal with the reality that the name Sackler has been associated with an epidemic of medical care. Given the mission of our medical school, we needed to reconcile that, said Peter Dolan, president of the Tufts board of directors, in an interview. A company that represents several members of the Sackler family did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Jillian Sackler, the widow of Purdue's co-founder, Arthur Sackler, said her husband doesn't deserve any guilt since she died before OxyContin was created. “Arthur had nothing to do with OxyContin. The man has been dead for 32 years. He did not benefit from it, and none of his philanthropic gifts were in any way related to opioids or deceptive medical marketing, with which he also had nothing to do, ”he said in a statement. The change was announced at the same time that the authorities published the results of an external review examining the school's ties with Sacklers and Purdue Pharma. The investigation, commissioned by the school, found no significant irregularities, but concluded that there was an appearance of an overly close relationship between Purdue, the Sacklers and Tufts. Family ties with Tufts date back to 1980, when the three founding brothers of Purdue Pharma made a donation to establish the Sackler School of Postgraduate Biomedical Sciences. Tufts named the building of his medical school separately in honor of one of the brothers, Arthur, after he made a donation in 1983. Jillian Sackler served on the board of trustees of the university for a decade from 1986. And Richard Sackler, a member of the board of Purdue and former CEO, was on the advisory board of the medical school for almost two decades until He left in 2017. Authorities said Sackler's name will now be removed from all campus facilities and programs, including the biomedical science school, the medical school, a laboratory and two research funds. On Thursday a poster with the name of Arthur Sackler was removed on the facade of the medical school. Tufts joins a growing number of universities that seek to distance themselves from the Sackler family amid pressure from students and activists. Several have stopped accepting family gifts, including Cornell and Yale universities. Others, including Brown University, said they will redirect previous donations to support addiction treatment. An Associated Press review in October found that prestigious universities around the world accepted at least $ 60 million from the Sacklers in the past five years. Some critics say schools should return the money so it can be used to help cities and states affected by the opioid crisis. Previous donations to Tufts will continue to be used for their original purpose, authorities said, but the university will establish a $ 3 million donation to support addiction research and education. The school also plans to create an educational exhibit that explores the history of Tufts with the Sacklers. Formerly known for their philanthropy, the Sacklers have drawn more attention for their role in the opioid crisis. Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy this year amid thousands of lawsuits accusing him of aggressively pressuring OxyContin despite his risks of addiction. Some of the lawsuits are addressed to individual family members, who deny having acted badly. Tufts students and faculty have long asked the school to break ties with the Sacklers, especially those in science and medicine programs. Dr. Harris Berman, dean of the medical school, said the name of the building had become a shame. Our students, our board of advisors, have all been concerned about the fact that we have Sackler's name everywhere, Berman said in an interview. I think there will be a great sigh of relief among all of us that we have finally done the right thing. I certainly feel that way. Tufts also faces criticism for its direct ties with Purdue Pharma. In 1999, the company paid to establish a master's program in pain research and education, and continued to finance it for a decade. One of the company's top executives became a professor in the program and was appointed assistant professor. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey alleged in a civil complaint in January that Purdue used the partnership with Tufts to strengthen his reputation and promote OxyContin. In response, the president of Tufts ordered the external review to examine the relationship. The investigation, led by a former US prosecutor, found that Purdue and the Sacklers contributed $ 15 million combined to Tufts since 1980. Much of the family's funds supported cancer and neuroscience research. The researchers found no evidence that funding significantly skewed Tufts' academic or research programs, but they believe that the family and their company benefited from the relationship in more subtle ways. In 2002, for example, the director of the Tufts pain program appeared in a Purdue ad, with his Tufts affiliation prominently. In 2015, the medical school decided not to assign students to read Dreamland, a book about the opioid crisis, largely because it was too critical of the Sacklers, according to the review. We believe Purdue intended to use the relationship with Tufts to promote his own interests and, in some particular cases, there is some evidence that he succeeded in exerting influence, the report found. Tufts leaders say they plan to implement a list of recommendations included in the report. He called for greater donor scrutiny, greater transparency around research donors and the creation of a committee to review large donations that raise issues of conflicts of interest, reputational risk to the university or other controversy. ___ Collin Binkley can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/cbinkley This story has not been edited by The Times of India and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed to which we subscribe. (This story has not been edited by timesofindia.com and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed to which we subscribe.)