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KCL Severs Ties with Billionaire Opioid Family

Source: Wikimedia Commons, Katy Ereira, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kings_College_London_Sign.jpg

King’s College London (KCL) has renamed the Sackler Institute, distancing itself from the opioid controversies surrounding the Sackler family.

KCL has severed all ties with the opioid-linked Sackler family, The Guardian has reported. The university announced it would be changing the name of its Sackler Institute, becoming the latest of a number of major institutions to distance themselves from a family accused of fueling the US opioid crisis.

KCL received £2 million from the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation in 2019, followed by £250,000 in 2020 and a further £750,000 in 2022. However in a statement, King’s announced “King’s College London and the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation have mutually agreed that, as funding has now ended, the research the foundation supported will no longer carry the Sackler name.” It confirmed to The Guardian that it will receive no further grants from the foundation.

Members of the Sackler family are owners of Purdue Pharma, who produce an addictive painkiller called OxyContin. In 2020, Purdue reached an $8.3 billion settlement with the US Department of Justice in which they admitted enabling supply of drugs for no medical purpose. They were accused of encouraging over-prescription of OxyContin, thereby fueling the opioid crisis that has claimed the lives of an estimated 500,000 Americans since 1999.

KCL is the latest in a long list of insitutions – including The Louvre, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and The British Museum – to sever ties with the family and related foundations. Oxford University announced earlier in May that it would be ending links with the family and renaming a number of buildings.

The Sackler Institute for Translational Neurodevelopment was established in 2013. It contains 22 PhD students and states its aim is “to transform our understanding of how disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, epilepsy and Down syndrome develop over a lifespan, to improve diagnostic approaches and to develop innovative treatments for these disorders.”

To read more news about the university, click here.

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