Members press National Academies on Sackler donations

Members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine are looking to the organization for answers on why it accepted millions of dollars in donations from the Sackler family — which owns Purdue Pharma — while also advising the federal government on its opioid policies, The New York Times reported April 28.

In an April 27 letter shared with the Times, more than 75 members asked for clarity about how research committee members — whose nonprofits were heavily funded by Purdue Pharma — were selected to advise the U.S. government on opioid policy. The letter's authors (eight of whom are Nobel Prize winners) said they wanted "clear answers" on what procedures the organization has in place to "ensure that advisory committee members are properly vetted."

The Sackler family has donated nearly $19 million to the National Academies, which serves as an independent adviser to the nation on science and medicine. 

After the Times first reported on the Sackler donations last week, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine issued an April 24 statement, saying it was exploring options to return or repurpose the funds.

"We of course take the concerns of National Academy of Sciences members seriously, and their concerns were in part what prompted very serious conversations here about returning or repurposing the funds, to which the N.A.S. remains committed," the organization told the Times April 29.

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