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The family members of those hit by the OxyContin painkiller scandal in the US have called for Dame Theresa Sackler to be stripped of her title and for museums to ‘take down’ the billionaire family’s name.
Families have called for the widow of Mortimer Sackler, one of Purdue Pharma’s co-owners, to be stripped of her title in Britain after a judge ruled that the Sackler family could now be held to account for the harm caused to users of the prescription drug.
Purdue Pharma, which is based in Stamford, Connecticut, introduced the fiercely addictive opioid OxyContin in 1996.
The family members of those hit by the OxyContin painkiller scandal in the US have called for Dame Theresa Sackler (pictured with Mortimer Sackler) to be stripped of her title
The families of those affected by the drug crisis have called on museums including the Victoria and Albert Museum (Sackler courtyard at the V&A pictured) to remove the billionaire family’s name from its buildings
Lawsuits against the company allege it sold OxyContin as a drug with a low chance of triggering addictions, despite knowing this to be not true.
However Purdue denied wrongdoing and said that its products were approved by federal regulators and prescribed by doctors – despite agreeing to pay a multi-billion dollar settlement to its victims.
Now the families of those affected by the drug crisis have called on the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Gallery and the Tate to remove the billionaire family’s name from its buildings and for the dame to be stripped of her title.
It comes after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York dropped the Sackler name from its building.
Mother Emily Walden, 49, from Kentucky, whose son TJ was just 21 when he died from an OxyContin overdose in 2012, was among those calling for the British institutions to ‘take down’ the Sackler name.
She told The Times: It’s not what they should be known for.’
Meanwhile American artist Nan Goldin, who became addicted to OxyContin after a wrist injury, said it was a ‘moral issue’.
She told The Times: ‘Museums are supposed to stand for something besides money. They have a mandate for education, learning and beauty.
‘I know a lot of artists who don’t want to show in galleries with the Sackler name.’
The drug, which was prescribed to millions for long-term use, has since been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the US
The opioid addiction crisis has caused more than 500,000 overdose deaths in the United States over the past 20 years.
Since 2010, the Sackler Trust claims to have donated more than £60 million in support of medical science, healthcare, education and the arts in the UK.
The Sackler Trust, alongside the Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation, has also supported arts institutions across London, including the National Theatre, the Royal Opera House and Shakespeare’s Globe.
In 2018, Ms Goldin threatened to boycott the National Portrait Gallery if it accepted a £1million donation from the Sackler family.
She told the Observer: ‘My message is for all institutions everywhere, which are taking Sackler money.
‘They are not going [to be able to] continue to operate ”business as usual”.People are pushing back and, if they want to maintain their standing as cultural institutions, they have to listen.’