McKinsey pursuing settlements with states for role in opioid epidemic

New York City-based consulting firm McKinsey is close to reaching a settlement with state attorneys general regarding counsel it provided to Purdue Pharma and other opioid drugmakers, sources familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal Jan. 29.

Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to three criminal charges related to the marketing and sales of OxyContin during a Nov. 24 hearing, in which the Justice Department noted that an undisclosed consulting company helped the drugmaker ramp up sales for the painkiller. Documents released in a New York federal bankruptcy court revealed that firm to be McKinsey.

The documents revealed McKinsey had advised the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharma, to "turbocharge" OxyContin sales during a time when the government and pharmaceutical industry was aware that hundreds of thousands of Americans had died from opioid overdoses. 

Included in the 160 pages of emails and slides is a McKinsey presentation from 2017 that suggested the drugmaker pay a rebate for every overdose attributable to OxyContin, estimating how many customers from distributors such as CVS or Anthem may overdose.

McKinsey issued a statement Dec. 5 on its website saying it recognizes it "did not adequately acknowledge the epidemic unfolding in our communities or the terrible impact of opioid abuse and addiction on millions of families across the country." The firm also also said it has been conducting a full review of its work with Purdue Pharma, including a 2018 email thread that referenced potential document deletion. 

In its efforts to reach state-specific settlement deals, McKinsey told states it seeks to enter deals to help it avoid civil lawsuits attorneys general could file against the firm, sources told The Wall Street Journal.

More articles on opioids:
Former Insys Therapeutics CEO to pay $5M for alleged improper opioid marketing
Florida pharmacy banned from dispensing opioids
License revoked for Florida physician accused of inappropriately prescribing opioids, asking patient for $35K

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