A £1 million donation to the National Portrait Gallery has been cancelled by a family embroiled in an opioid drugs scandal.
The Sackler Trust’s gift to support the gallery’s Inspiring People project will not proceed, it was revealed on Tuesday.
The trust is run by the Sackler family, members of which own Purdue Pharma, a company selling the prescription painkiller OxyContin.
The business is facing hundreds of lawsuits in the US aiming to hold it to account for its alleged role in the country’s opioid drug crisis.
A spokesman for the Sackler Trust said: “The giving philosophy of the family has always been to actively support institutions while never getting in the way of their mission.
“It has become evident that recent reporting of allegations made against Sackler family members may cause this new donation to deflect the National Portrait Gallery from its important work.”
The spokesman added that the allegations against the family were “vigorously denied” but the donation would not proceed “to avoid being a distraction” for the gallery.
Since 2010, the Sackler Trust claims to have donated more than £60 million in support of medical science, healthcare, education and the arts in the UK.
David Ross, chair of the National Portrait Gallery, said: “I acknowledge the generosity of the Sackler Family and their support of the arts over the years.
“We understand and support their decision not to proceed at this time with the donation to the Gallery.”
OxyContin is a time-released opioid that was introduced in 1996.
Lawsuits against Purdue Pharma allege that the Stamford, Connecticut-based company sold OxyContin as a drug with a low chance of triggering addictions, despite knowing this to be not true.
According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017 opioids were involved in nearly 48,000 deaths.
Purdue, which denies wrongdoing, has said that its products were approved by federal regulators and prescribed by doctors.
The company is reported to be currently considering its legal options, including bankruptcy.