Oxford University cuts ties with Sackler family after opioid crisis

Oxford University
Oxford University Copyright Wojtek Skora @canva
By Katy Dartford
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Oxford University had been the last major institution to retain visible ties with the Sackler family despite its links to the opioid crisis. The decision follows similar moves by the British Museum and Serpentine Gallery in London, the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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The University of Oxford is to remove the Sackler name from its buildings, galleries and staff positions funded through their donations over the family's association with addictive opioid drugs.

As part of the decision, the Sackler Library has been renamed the Bodleian Art, Archaeology and Ancient World Library.

A statement on the University of Oxford's website said the move had "had the full support of the Sackler family and were approved by the University Council" on Monday.

The University is the latest cultural institution to cut ties with the Sackler's. The family's name has been removed in recent years from wings and galleries at institutions including the British Museum and the Serpentine Gallery in London, the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The Sackler name has become synonymous with Purdue Pharma, the company that developed OxyContin, a widely prescribed and widely abused painkiller.

Purdue has faced a barrage of lawsuits alleging that it helped spark an addiction and overdose crisis linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the US over the past two decades.

The university said donations received from the Sackler family and their trusts will be "retained by the university for their intended educational purposes". It said no new donations have been received from the family or their trusts since January 2019.

The Sackler name, however, will still be retained on the Clarendon Arch and on the Ashmolean Museum's donor board for "the purposes of historical recording" of donations.

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