Protest in Boston Over Sackler Donations, Raimondo Continues to Refuse to Return $12K

Monday, July 23, 2018



A group of approximately 100 staged a protest at Sackler Museum at Harvard -- the group comprised of medical students and community activists are opposed to Harvard accepting donations from the family that owns Purdue Pharma -- the company that created oxycontin and is now being sued by the State of Rhode Island and multiple other states for illegally marketing the highly addictive drugs.   

The "die-in" inside Sackler Museum in protest of its ties to a family the demonstrators say profited off the opioid crisis. "Protest underway at Harvard’s Sackler Museum over the family’s role in the opioid epidemic. Activists join medical students from @harvardmed in chanting “people over profits” and “shame on Sacklers.” Tweeted one of the protestors.

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Tweet of Sackler Protest at Harvard by Justin @TheKaptin

On Thursday, RI Lt. Governor Dan McKee has said he will give $4,000 he received in donations from Purdue Pharma executive Jonathan Sackler and his wife to recovery organizations in Rhode Island, following a GoLocal article which uncovered that Governor Gina Raimondo has received thousands from oxycontin scion Sackler and now even more from his wife — and refuses to return them. 

"These donations are from years ago, and I am donating them to recovery organizations here in Rhode Island. My record in fighting the opiate crisis is crystal clear — I led the efforts of 28 Rhode Island cities and towns in suing the Big Pharma companies that lied about the addictiveness of their products and illegally profited off the misery of addiction," said McKee. "I am confident that our cities and towns will prevail in the lawsuit I introduced them to, and that the funds will be used to fight the opioid epidemic."

Now, GoLocal has learned that Raimondo received $5,000 from Sackler’s wife Mary Corson, upping the total amount to $12,000. Again on Sunday night, Raimondo's campaign reaffirmed that she will not return or donate the Sackler donations.

MA and RI AG Lawsuits

“The medical community is here saying they’re taking a stand against the Sackler and Purdue Pharma influence,” Megan Kapler of the group P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) told Art News. 

"Demonstrators silently marched from Harvard Square to the Arthur M. Sackler Museum — one of the three museums that comprise Harvard's art museums. Part of psychiatrist and art collector Arthur Sackler's estate was sold to his family members, Mortimer and Raymond Sackler, who owned Purdue Pharma — the pharmaceutical company that began selling Oxycontin in the '90s. Once inside the museum, the activists chanted "Shame on Sackler," as they marched in a circle and threw mock Oxycontin pill bottles and empty Narcan — the brand name of an opioid-reversal drug — boxes on the ground," reported WBUR.

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While RI is suing Sackler's Purdue Pharma, Raimondo refuses to return donations.

"Last month, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed suit against Purdue and a number of its current and former executives, including members of the Sackler family, alleging that the company had “deceived doctors and patients by misrepresenting the risks of addiction and death associated with the prolonged use of its prescription opioids,” as a Reuters report put it. In 2007, the company pleaded guilty to misleading people about the dangers of OxyContin and paid a fine of more than $600 million," reported Art News.

The state of Rhode Island is one of the other states suing Purdue. Rhode Island’s suit alleges, “In 2015, Purdue reaped an estimated $2.4 billion in revenue, virtually all of it from opioids. Since its launch in 1996, OxyContin alone has generated $35 billion in sales.”

“Within Rhode Island, the age-adjusted overdose rate in 2015 of 28.2 per 100,000 people ranks fifth in the nation. From 2014-2015, Rhode Island experienced a 24% one-year change in overdose deaths, the third highest change in America. The rate of deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl ranked third in the nation in 2015. From 2011 to 2016, as well, Rhode Island saw a 303% increase in overdose fatalities,” claims the lawsuit.

And, the State of Rhode Island alleges that, “Purdue not only marketed opioids for chronic pain conditions, but also targeted primary care physicians (along with nurse practitioners and physician assistants), who were most likely to see patients with chronic pain conditions and least likely to have the training and experience to evaluate both Defendants' marketing and patients' pain conditions.”


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