The Metropolitan Museum of art says it will stop accepting money from the Sacklers, the billionaire family who owns OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma.
In addition to pushing the drug the spurred the opioid crisis, the Sacklers are also prodigious patrons of the arts, having supported a number of big-name institutions from the Guggenheim to the Louvre. But lately, several of those institutions have been disentangling themselves from the Sackler dollars. As of Wednesday, that includes the Met.
“The museum takes a position of gratitude and respect to those who support us, but on occasion, we feel it’s necessary to step away from gifts that are not in the public interest, or in our institution’s interest,” Daniel H. Weiss, the president of the Met, told the New York Times. “That is what we’re doing here.”
The announcement marks the end of a decades-old relationship between the Sacklers and the Met, but it’s for the best. In March, Purdue reached a $270 million settlement in a lawsuit claiming opioids contributed to thousands of deaths. According to the BBC,
The lawsuit filed by Oklahoma claimed that in order to persuade doctors to prescribe their painkillers, Purdue, and other companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceutical, allegedly decided to “falsely downplay the risk of opioid addiction” and “overstate” the benefits of their drugs to treat a wide range of conditions.
In response to the decision by the Met to sever ties, the Sacklers said in a statement that “while the allegations against our family are false and unfair, we understand that accepting gifts at this time would put the Met in a difficult position.”