Tufts removes Sackler name from medical school

After much deliberation, Tufts University will immediately begin removing the Sackler name from its Boston-based medical school due to the family's link to the opioid crisis, the university announced Dec. 5.

The Sackler family and its company, Purdue Pharma, have been major donors of Tufts since 1980, giving the school about $15 million over the past four decades, according to The New York Times. Less than half of that money remains in endowed funds and will not be returned, officials told the Times. The billionaire family previously owned Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, but recently gave up ownership and paid $3 billion to settle lawsuits over the company's role in the opioid crisis. Some family members are still involved with Purdue Pharma, according to Tufts.

"The Tufts University School of Medicine's values include a commitment to relieve suffering, improve quality of life and promote integrity and social responsibility," Tufts President Anthony Monaco, MD, PhD, said in a press release. "Given the human toll of the opioid epidemic in which members of the Sackler family and their company Purdue Pharma are associated, it is clear that continuing to display the Sackler name is inconsistent with these values."

The university chose to remove the Sackler name based on feedback from students, faculty and alumni, who told leadership the name "has had a negative impact on their studies and professional careers," according to Tufts Board Chairman Peter Dolan. To recognize this impact, Tufts also announced the establishment of a $3 million endowment for substance abuse and addiction treatment programs, as well as plans for an educational exhibit to describe the Sacklers' involvement with the school and the effects of the opioid epidemic.

The renaming begins the same day the university released the findings of an eight-month investigation into the Sacklers' relationship with the school. The report, prepared by former U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Donald Stern, concluded there was no wrongdoing by the university or staff and there was no evidence the Sacklers or Purdue Pharma had influence over research or curriculum. It found "instances of conduct that could have directly or indirectly led to influence and other conduct that suggest the appearance of influence," according to Tufts, but it was determined not to have affected academics or the integrity of the university.

 

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