Sacklers to lose control of New York-based foundations in opioid settlement

Bottles of OxyContin.

Bottles of OxyContin. PureRadiancePhoto / Shutterstock

Members of the Sackler family, which owns the OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, would lose control of two of their private foundations located in New York as part of a $4.5 billion settlement with multiple states related to litigation over the opioid epidemic, MarketWatch reports.

Several states, including New York, recently reached the agreement. Under the agreement, the Sackler family would lose control of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Foundation and the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Fund for the Arts and Sciences, which collectively have $175 million in assets and which have funded medical research at institutions like the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and the Neuroendocrine Tumor Research Foundation in Boston, according to tax documents from the foundations.

The settlement requires that the foundations fall under the purview of appointees of the bankruptcy court or to the trustees of the National Opioid Abatement Trust, which will be created out of the settlement. The foundations’ missions will be limited to taking on charitable initiatives responding to the opioid crisis as a result of the agreement. The family will also no longer be able to put their names on buildings, hospitals or other institutions to which they donate money.

The Sacklers’ philanthropic efforts – which include major contributions to institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City – have become increasingly criticized as their role in the opioid epidemic has taken center stage. Even New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a 2019 lawsuit that “the Sacklers used their ill-gotten wealth to cover up their misconduct with a philanthropic campaign intending to whitewash their decades-long success in profiting at New Yorkers’ expense.”