Sackler Trust cancels £1m donation to National Portrait Gallery

The Tate group including London's Tate Britain and Tate Modern announced Thursday it will no longer take donations from the Sackler family

"We do not intend to remove references to this historic philanthropy", the group said in a statement.

The National Portrait Gallery in London and the Sackler family, owners of the pharmaceutical giant Purdue Pharma LP, have said in a statement that the £1,000,000 donation, about $1.3 million, from the Sackler Trust to the gallery's Inspiring People project will not proceed.

The trust is run by the Sackler family, members of which own Purdue Pharma, a company selling the prescription painkiller OxyContin.

Much of the focus on the Sacklers' donations to art institutions has been in the United States, where deaths and addiction associated with prescription opioids have become an unrelenting crisis.

Tate and the National Portrait Gallery's refusal of the donations reflects growing scrutiny of the painkiller producers.

The chairman of the National Portrait Gallery, David Ross, said: "I acknowledge the generosity of the Sackler family and their support of the arts over the years".

Numerous allegations have already been made public in a lawsuit naming the same eight family members in MA, and are contained in court documents in the multi-district litigation taking place in a federal court in Cleveland, Ohio, which has been brought against Purdue and other companies, though no members of the Sackler family individually, by more than 1,200 cities and counties.

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Lawsuits against Purdue Pharma allege that the Stamford, Connecticut-based company sold OxyContin as a drug with a low chance of triggering addictions, despite knowing this to be not true.

Some of the lawsuits against the Sacklers specifically mention eight members of the family, and accuse them of profiting from legal opioids that fuelled the epidemic, The Guardian said.

The suit - filed by some of the same lawyers who are leading the litigation against opioid makers and distributors consolidated in federal court in Cleveland - targets the family for making billions of dollars off OxyContin by pushing it on doctors for more than a decade.

"The [Sackler] defendants' actions caused and continue to cause the public health epidemic... caused deaths, serious injuries, and a severe disruption to public peace, order and safety, it is ongoing and it is producing permanent and long-lasting damage", the court documents said, according to The Guardian.

The statement adds that the allegations against family members "are vigorously denied".

The Sacklers have donated more than £4 million - about $5.3 million - to the group in the past, a Tate spokesperson told CNN. "We understand and support their decision not to proceed at this time with the donation to the gallery".

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