McKinsey responds to role it played in OxyContin sales

New York City-based consulting firm McKinsey issued a statement regarding its past work with Purdue Pharma, saying it failed to contextualize the opioid epidemic's destructive effects when advising the drugmaker on how to increase OxyContin sales.

Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to three criminal charges related to OxyContin's marketing and sales 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.

“As we look back at our client service during the opioid crisis, we recognize that we 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 statement, issued Dec. 5 on the company's website, reads.

McKinsey 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. 

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