On Wednesday, sources said that McKinsey & Company agreed to a $573 million settlement for its role in advising companies how to “supercharge” opioid sales amid an overdose crisis. The source was not authorized to speak publicly about the deal ahead of a planned announcement and court filings in 47 states, Washington, DC, and five US territories.
The attorneys general in at least North Carolina and West Virginia have scheduled announcements regarding the opioid crisis for Thursday morning without naming McKinsey. And in a statement, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the state would file a consent decree involving McKinsey “that will result in corporate reforms and more than $13 million to Washington state for opioid treatment, prevention, and recovery efforts.”
Most of the money that was first mentioned by The New York Times in the national settlement would be sent to the states in less than a year and would be used to alleviate the national opioid epidemic. Since 2000, prescription opioids and illegal opioids such as heroin and synthetic fentanyl combined have been associated with the deaths of over 470,000 Americans. And despite the coronavirus pandemic, the outbreak has deepened.
For the past few years, state and local governments have been filing lawsuits against corporations that manufacture and distribute prescription opioids for their role in the crisis. Yet going after a consulting company is a new litigation wrinkle.
McKinsey issued documents used in OxyContin producer Purdue Pharma’s legal proceedings, including those that explain its attempts to help the company attempt to “supercharge” opioid sales in 2013.
Emails between McKinsey are included in records made public in Purdue proceedings last year. One from 2008, a year after the company first pleaded guilty to opioid-related offenses, says board members, including a member of the Sackler family, “‘blessed’ him to do whatever he thinks is necessary to ‘save the business.'”
To continue to settle claims against it, Purdue is in bankruptcy court. The firm has offered a settlement that over time could be worth $10 billion. As part of a deal with the federal government, the corporation also pled guilty to criminal charges last year. As part of the settlement, both Purdue and members of the Sackler family who control the company agreed to pay the U.S. government $225 million.
Also working on a national settlement was a consortium of the biggest drug distribution firms, plus drugmaker Johnson & Johnson.