Tufts University is removing the Sackler name from its medical and biomedical sciences schools because it was “untenable and in opposition with the values and mission of the medical school and the university,” as the name is now in “association with the opioid epidemic,” Law360 reported. The university also said it was creating a $3 million endowment to fund efforts to prevent and treat opioid addiction.
Sackler is the name of the billionaire family that owned Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of the highly addictive opioid OxyContin. The school’s medical education building is named for Arthur M. Sackler, who died a decade before OxyContin hit the market.
“While the financial support provided by the Sacklers and Purdue Pharma may have been intended to provide charitable support for the academic and research mission of the university, the current-day association of the opioid epidemic with the Sackler name conflicts with the charitable intent,” Tufts President Anthony P. Monaco and the board of trustees said in a statement.
Tufts had commissioned former U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Donald K. Stern to investigate whether Tufts and any of its personnel violated any university policies in regard to the Sackler family or Purdue. Stern determined there was no wrongdoing.
Purdue and the Sacklers were facing thousands of lawsuits brought by local governments, states and tribes accusing both of creating and fueling a national opioid epidemic, which cost communities millions if not billions in economic damages. As part of a settlement agreement, the Sacklers agreed to give up ownership of Purdue, and file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the company. Purdue will dissolve into a public beneficiary trust, which will still manufacture OxyContin but proceeds will be turned over to plaintiffs. The company will also provide free access to its overdose antidotes and addiction treatments, many of which are currently under development. The Sacklers also agreed to pay $3 billion from their own fortune.
Beasley Allen has an Opioid Litigation Team that includes these lawyers: Rhon Jones, Parker Miller, Ryan Kral, Rick Stratton, Will Sutton, Roger Smith and Jeff Price. This team represents the State of Alabama, the State of Georgia, and numerous local governments, as well as other entities in multidistrict litigation.