Elizabeth Sackler called her relatives’ extremely lucrative opioid manufacturing company “morally abhorrent” after her art center received $500,000 from family members who profited from drug sales.
“Purdue Pharma’s role in [the opioid epidemic] is morally abhorrent to me,” Sackler told Page Six in a statement Thursday.
Critics say Purdue’s highly aggressive and deceptive marketing campaign for its narcotic painkiller, OxyContin, played a crucial role in initiating the opioid epidemic. The company admitted to lying to doctors about opioids’ addictiveness, which effectively eliminated physicians’ fears of prescribing them to patients for reasons like chronic pain.
OxyContin sales brought the family $35 billion between 1995 and 2015, according to Forbes. More than 200,000 people have died from prescription opioid overdoses since 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
Elizabeth Sackler’s uncles bought her father’s share of Purdue after his death in 1987 – years before OxyContin was released.
“None of [Arthur Sackler’s] descendants have ever owned a share of Purdue stock nor benefitted in any way from it or the sale of OxyContin,” Elizabeth said in her statement.
But a previous Daily Caller News Foundation investigation revealed that Elizabeth’s art center, which displays pieces from her personal collection, has benefited from OxyContin sales.
The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art is housed in the Brooklyn Museum. The Mortimer D. Sackler Foundation – named after Elizabeth’s uncle – donated $500,000 to the museum in 2013, which was earmarked for the feminist center’s curator.
Mortimer died in 2010, but his survivors manage the nonprofit. They also bankroll the foundation with their personal wealth, which is primarily derived from Purdue and OxyContin sales.
Elizabeth also voiced her support for Nan Goldin, a photographer and former OxyContin addict who recently created an advocacy group determined to bring attention to the Sacklers’ opioid profiteering and the various museums that have taken the family’s money.
“I admire Nan Goldin’s commitment to take action and her courage to tell her story,” Elizabeth said in a statement.
A petition Goldin started to hold the Sacklers and Purdue accountable for the opioid epidemic has 3,300 signatures as of Thursday morning.
Goldin did not respond to a request for comment, nor did spokesmen for Elizabeth or Purdue.
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