McKinsey to pay $573 million over role in pushing opioid drugs

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McKinsey & Co. said it will pay nearly $600 million to settle allegations that it fueled the nationwide opioid crisis by helping Purdue Pharma push addictive painkillers.

Some $573 million of that will go to 47 states and the District of Columbia, which accused the white-shoe consulting firm of helping Purdue “turbocharge” OxyContin sales as a deadly wave of overdoses gripped the nation.

Authorities said that deal — which also bars McKinsey from advising companies on opioid-based drugs — is the first multi-state opioid settlement to provide a “substantial payment” to help states address the drug crisis.

Washington State reached a separate $13.5 million deal with McKinsey, and West Virginia was also planning an opioid-related announcement.

At the heart of McKinsey’s more than 15-year relationship with Purdue was a strategy to boost OxyContin sales by targeting certain doctors, such as those who were already writing large numbers of prescriptions for the drug, state officials alleged.

McKinsey later came to view the nationwide drug crisis that Purdue helped cause as a “profit-making opportunity” and advised the Connecticut-based company to start making medications to treat opioid addiction, according to a complaint New York prosecutors filed Thursday along with similar complaints across the country.

“They knew where the money was coming from and zeroed in on it,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James, one of 10 AGs that spearheaded the settlement negotiations with McKinsey.

The states and territories involved in the settlement will use McKinsey’s money to address the harms of the opioid crisis and recoup the costs of investigating the firm’s role in it, according to court filings.

The firm will also have to release tens of thousands of documents detailing its work for Purdue and other opioid manufacturers. Additionally, McKinsey said it fired two partners who had discussed deleting documents.

“We deeply regret that we did not adequately acknowledge the tragic consequences of the epidemic unfolding in our communities,” Kevin Sneader, McKinsey’s global managing partner, said in a statement. “With this agreement, we hope to be part of the solution to the opioid crisis in the US.”

The settlement came about two months after Purdue admitted to its own role in the epidemic by pleading guilty to three federal criminal charges.

Details of McKinsey’s ties to Purdue previously came to light in a 2019 lawsuit that Massachusetts filed against the drugmaker and a trove of documents filed in Purdue’s bankruptcy case.

With Post wires

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