Sackler Trust freezes donations amid US opioid lawsuits

The Sackler Trust, run by members of the billionaire family who own OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, will suspend all new philanthropic giving amid claims that the family played a role in fueling the U.S. opioid crisis, according to a statement on the trust's website.

The move comes just one week after several big-name art museums turned down pledges from the charitable organization. Last week, the National Portrait Gallery in London became the first major art institution to forgo a $1.3 million pledge from the trust. Two days later, the Tate group of art galleries followed suit, saying it would no longer accept  gifts offered by members of the Sackler family. A U.S. museum, the Guggenheim, also passed on donations from the Sackler family, according to The Washington Post.  

The Sacklers are entangled in a multitude of lawsuits, investigations and looming congressional inquiries about their role in marketing OxyContin, which has been blamed for fueling the opioid crisis in the U.S.  Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers deny the allegations.

"The current press attention that these legal cases in the U.S. is generating has created immense pressure on the scientific, medical, educational and arts institutions," a statement from Dame Theresa Sackler, chair of the trust read. "This attention is distracting them from the important work that they do."

The Sackler Trust, which supports research and education charities across the United Kingdom, said it will honor existing commitments.

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