After weeks of mediation, the Sackler family reached a settlement with nine state attorneys general and the District of Columbia to begin resolving the numerous civil lawsuits filed against the family for their role in the opioid epidemic.
As part of the arrangement, any institution in the United States would be free to remove the Sackler name from its facilities without objection. Some institutions have already taken the plunge. In December, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York erased the family name from a space known for years as the Sackler Gallery, and the Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London dropped the family name nine months later. early.
The new filing says the family has “agreed to authorize any institution or organization in the United States to remove the Sackler name from physical facilities and from academic, medical, and cultural programs, scholarships, endowments, etc.”
It demands that any institution planning to do so give the family 45 days notice and not disparage the Sackler name. It does not, however, specify whether institutions that have agreed to bear the Sackler name in perpetuity in exchange for financial donations can also remove the name. Davis Polk, the law firm representing Purdue Pharma, declined to comment on Artnet News’ request for clarification on this point.
The Sacklers, owners of Purdue Pharma, the company behind OxyContin, also agreed to pay up to $6 billion as part of the settlement, filed yesterday, March 3, in court in New York. This figure represents a significant increase from the $4.3 billion cash payout included in a previous settlement offer, which was blocked by federal judge Last December, after the Justice Department, nine states and the District of Columbia filed an appeal.
Under the new deal, Purdue Pharma will now be known as Knoa Pharma and will be run by a public board.
In a statement included in the filing – a requirement of the settlement – the family said they “sincerely regret[s] that OxyContin, a prescription drug that continues to help people with chronic pain, has unexpectedly become part of an opioid crisis that has caused grief and loss to far too many families and communities. The statement admitted no wrongdoing.
On Twitterthe nonprofit activist group founded PAIN, which was founded by photographer Nan Goldin and has organized numerous protests against Purdue and the Sacklers, called the statement “horrific”.
The group specifically underlined the word “unexpectedly”, adding, “recall that the Sacklers internally referred to high prescribing physicians as ‘whales’ and patented software that tracked every Oxycontin pill prescribed nationwide. .”
“After years of lies and denial, the Sackler family must now directly apologize for the pain they have caused,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said in a statement. “They must come face to face with the survivors of their reckless greed in a public hearing. Museums and universities can now erase Sackler’s tarnished name from their walls, ensuring that this family will be remembered throughout history for their callous disregard for human suffering and little else.
The deal still needs to be confirmed by Judge Robert Drain, the New York bankruptcy judge who oversaw the case, and approved by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, according to the New York Times.
If the settlement is approved, all current and future civil lawsuits against Purdue Pharma will be resolved. However, the company is the subject of criminal proceedings.
This is where Michael Quinn, a founding board member of PAIN, hopes the saga will continue.
“The settlement shouldn’t be the end of this story,” he told Artnet News in an email. “Activists, artists, writers and filmmakers have denounced the Sacklers. Now is the time for the [Department of Justice] bring to justice.”
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