Two weeks after Tufts University removed the Sackler family name from its buildings and programs over their company’s role in the deadly opioid epidemic, the family is fighting back, calling the decision “a breach.” Members of the Sackler family own Purdue Pharma, a drug company that makes the painkiller OxyContin, which has been tied to an epidemic that has already cost the lives of more than 400,000 people. The company is facing thousands of explosive lawsuits in the U.S.
Tufts was reportedly the first university to remove the family’s name from its campus, which a lawyer for descendants of two Sackler brothers said is a “breach of the many binding commitments made by the University dating back to 1980 in order to secure the family’s support, including millions of dollars in donations for facilities and critical medical research.” He added that the decision is “contrary to the basic notions of fairness,” in a letter to the university’s president. The letter from lawyer Robert Cordy has ultimately raised questions about the legal implications of removing a donor’s name after accepting gifts. Several other institutions such as Yale University, Tate, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, have pledged this year that they will no longer accept the Sackler family as a donor.