Colleges received $60 million from Sackler foundations: report

Colleges received $60 million from Sackler foundations: report
© Getty Images

A number of colleges and universities have accepted at least $60 million in donations in the last five years from the family that owns OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma, according to The Associated Press.

The AP analysis also shows that at least nine schools around the world accepted the contributions in 2018 or 2019, the same period numerous states, cities and municipalities around the U.S. sued the company and the family for their role in the opioid crisis.


Overall, at least 24 universities have received donations from $25,000 to over $10 million since 2013, according to the AP, citing tax and charity records. Major beneficiaries during the same period as the lawsuits included Imperial College London, the University of Sussex and Yale University.

Rockefeller University in New York accepted more money from the Sackler Foundation than any other school in recent history, more than $11 million, the bulk of which came from a 2014 gift of $10 million, according to the AP.

The Hill has reached out to all four universities highlighted in the report for comment.

Dr. Andrew Kolodny, a vocal critic of the Sacklers and leader of a Brandeis University program on opioid policy, said the donations represent an effort by the family to restore a reputation as pillars of philanthropy that has been harmed by their association with the crisis.

“Money from the Sacklers should be understood as blood money,” he told the AP. “Universities shouldn’t take it, and universities that have taken it should give it back.”

Various recipients of the Sacklers’s charitable donations have distanced themselves from the family, particularly amid revelations in the lawsuits that many of the Sacklers were aware of the addictive properties of their products.

This year alone, the Louvre museum in Paris removed a plaque thanking the Sacklers for their donations and renamed the Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities, also covering other references to the family with gray tape, while the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York confirmed it will no longer accept donations from the family.

Most of the schools would not tell the AP whether they would accept further donations from the Sacklers, while none said they plan to return the money, according to the AP.

“We’re looking at this through the lens of what people know now,” Ross Cheit, chairman of the Rhode Island Ethics Commission and a professor at Brown University, which has accepted donations from the family, told the AP. “My sense is, during the time period we’re talking about, people’s views about that source of money changed a lot.”