Tufts University to dissolve relationship with family behind OxyContin amid national opioid epidemic

Tufts University to dissolve relationship with family behind OxyContin amid national opioid epidemic
© Getty Images

Tufts University announced that it is severing ties with the billionaire family that owns Purdue Pharma, the firm that manufactures OxyContin.

The Massachusetts school announced Thursday that it is stripping the Sackler family name from its campus and will no longer accept any donations from them amid concerns that they are helping fuel the ongoing opioid crisis. The Sacklers and Tufts had maintained a nearly 40-year relationship that helped funnel millions to the school’s science and medical programs.

“Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and others have shared with us the negative impact the Sackler name has on them each day, noting the human toll of the opioid epidemic in which members of the Sackler family and their company, Purdue Pharma, are associated," the school said in a statement. "We are grateful to those who have shared their thoughts with us. It is clear that the Sackler name, with its link to the current health crisis, runs counter to the school’s mission.

ADVERTISEMENT

“In taking these actions, we will more fully enable our university and medical school to move forward in support of their missions and to help the countless individuals and families who have suffered as a result of the opioid crisis," the statement added. 

Beyond cutting itself off from the Sackler family, the school will also establish a $3 million endowment to support education, research, and civic engagement programs focused on the prevention and treatment of substance abuse and addiction.

The school said it had considered the actions for more a year before deciding that its relationship with the Sackler family went against its mission. 

To prevent similar issues from arising in the future, the school said it would consider adopting stronger screening procedures for donors, enhancing its gift policies and developing stricter conflict-of-interest policies, among other things.

The changes come after an outside review concluded that there was no major wrongdoing by any member of the university staff, but there was an “appearance of too close a relationship between Purdue, the Sacklers and Tufts.”