Sackler Family Name Being Pulled From Yale Despite Large Past Donations

Yale University has continued the process of distancing the Ivy League school from the Sackler family, including removing two professorships named for the family.

Yale previously announced it would stop accepting donations from the family that owns Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of the pain medication OxyContin, which has been tied to the onset of the opioid epidemic over the last several decades across the U.S.

The continuation of the severing of ties between the family and university was first reported by the Yale Daily News, the university's student-run newspaper.

The family's name has been removed from other prominent institutions as lawsuits across the country were filed against the family and Purdue Pharma for its role in exacerbating the opioid epidemic.

Most recently, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art announced in December that an agreement was reached with the family for the Sackler name to be removed from seven exhibition spaces named in honor of the family's decades of donations.

"In 2021, the University made a decision to pursue a separation from the Sackler name and has been actively working on specific plans consistent with that decision which we expect to announce soon," a university spokesperson told the Yale Daily News.

Sackler Family Opioids Yale University
Yale University has announced its intention to continue the process of severing ties with the Sackler family. Above, Activists of P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) association and of French NGO Aides hold a banner reading "Take down the Sackler name" in front of the Pyramid of the Louvre museum on July 1, 2019, in Paris, France. Stephane de Sakutin/AFP via Getty Images

Endowments from the Sackler family had been used to create professorships in pharmacology and internal medicine named after members of the family, as well as the Sackler Institute for Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences, the Daily News reported.

The institute has already had the Sackler name removed and has become part of the school's Program in Physics, Engineering, and Biology. The Daily News also reported that the professor who held the pharmacology position was reassigned last week, while the internal medicine position has been vacant since 2015 when a professor left the university. The spokesperson said the school does not plan to fill either position again.

The university has received over $1 million in donations from the Sackler family and has not said what it plans to do with any money from those donations that hasn't been spent, according to The Associated Press.

Earlier this week, several members of the Sackler family participated in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing with over two dozen former opioid addicts and family members of those who were addicts or had died from drug overdoses.

The family was harshly criticized during the hearing, with one woman who played the recording of a 911 call in which she was calling the police to help as her son had overdosed, calling the family "scum of the earth" for profiting off of a drug that led to addiction and death.

Last week, a settlement was reached between the Sacklers and several states that had filed lawsuits over the family's involvement in the opioid epidemic that would force them to pay up to $6 billion.

Tens of millions would go to states, while other funding would go to addiction treatment programs and pay settlements with those who have brought lawsuits against the family.

Update 03/11/22, 6:45 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional information.