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Opioid crisis pressure prompts Sackler Trust to halt U.K. donations

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London -- The Sackler Trust, a major U.K.-based philanthropic organization funded by the Sackler family, has suspended new donations in Britain due to pressure from legal cases in the United States, according to a statement. Hundreds of counties, cities, and tribes in the U.S. allege the Sackler family and its U.S.-based company Purdue Pharma paved the way for a nationwide opioid epidemic with their more-than-decade-long effort to market the drug OxyContin.

"I am deeply saddened by the addiction crisis in America and support the actions Purdue Pharma is taking to help tackle the situation, whilst still rejecting the false allegations made against the company and several members of the Sackler family," Dame Theresa Sackler said in a statement.

"The current press attention that these legal cases in the United States is generating has created immense pressure on the scientific, medical, educational and arts institutions here in the UK, large and small, that I am so proud to support. This attention is distracting them from the important work that they do," the statement continued.

Purdue Pharma, accused of fueling opioid crisis, reportedly wanted to capitalize on treatment

This month, the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate galleries in Britain rejected funding from The Sackler Trust amid a backlash over the opioid crisis, according to reports. The Sacklers are known for their high-profile donations to support the arts and sciences, including to the Soloman R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (which has also said it will accept no further donations from the family), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and London's Victoria and Albert Museum.

Photographer Nan Goldin, who campaigns for art institutions to reject Sackler funding, tweeted that the money should be used to "make restitution for all the lives lost" in the opioid epidemic. Goldin became addicted to opioids after being prescribed OxyContin for pain following a surgery. After finishing treatment, she founded the group P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) to pressure the Sacklers into funding addiction treatment for others affected by the crisis.

"If they did nothing wrong as their statement says," Goldin tweeted, "why are members of the Family named in 500 lawsuits in states in US. And about 2,000 against Purdue their private pill company."

The Sackler Trust donated the equivalent of nearly $10 million to British organizations in 2017, according to the Art Newspaper.

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