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Tel Aviv University Fights Pressure to Remove Sackler Name

— November 23, 2021

University refuses to remove the Sackler name despite its removal all around the world.

Members of the Purdue Pharma’s Sackler family were once well-known for their philanthropic efforts and had their names on many infamous museums and other well-known monuments and institutions, including universities such as Tel Aviv.  However, at the start of the epidemic, there were protests when it became evident that the Sackler name was associated with overdose deaths more so than giving back to society, and many respected institutions decided that enough is enough.

At one of the demonstrations, fake paper prescriptions were dropped into the atrium of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City to protest against the institution’s acceptance of donations from the Sacklers.  Protestors also handed out fake pill bottles and the papers were meant to represent a “blizzard of prescriptions,” according to leader Nan Goldin, at the time.

Since then, most of institutions that once adorned the Sacklers name have decided to remove it and stop accepting donations from the wealthy family behind the maker of OxyContin.  They’ve decided that they no longer want to be associated with a company that created so much loss, despite the risk of discontinuing such large financial contributions.

Tel Aviv University Fights Pressure to Remove Sackler Name
Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

Serpentine North Gallery, at one time named the ‘Serpentine Sackler Gallery,’ removed the family’s name earlier this year.  The Louvre museum, one of the largest and most well-known of its kind in the world, removed the name from a twelve-room wing in 2019.  The same year, London’s National Portrait Gallery refused a $1.3 million donation from the Sacklers.  And, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, America’s largest museum, said it would stop taking Sackler money back in 2019, but did failed to scrub Sackler from its wing.

Purdue Pharma will, itself, be reorganized into a public benefit trust.  And yet, despite all of the changes that have been made, members of the the Sackler family will still have their name attached to institutions all over the world.  On Tel Aviv University, for example, name is still visible in areas of the campus.  This is the case despite the fact that OxyContin took so many lives.  It is an ironic contradiction to say the least.

“The name Sackler has over the years become synonymous with greed, misleading science, misleading doctors and health authorities, and encouraging over-prescribing of addictive and dangerous drugs.  In recent years, evidence, judgments and revelations about family acts have accumulated,” wrote reporter Roni Linder. “In this situation, the inconceivable dissonance sharpens between the role of a medical school, which is supposed to educate its students in light of the ethical commandment ‘First, do no harm’, and the horrific acts committed by the Sackler family at the Fredo company it founded and managed the addictive drug Oxycontin.”

Tel Aviv University officials have thus far fended off efforts made to remove the name from its buildings.  The demand of some members of the university’s faculty to remove the name Sackler from the Faculty of Medicine building has been revived and it will be interesting to see if it resonates this time.


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