By Samantha Bader, Co-President
McKinsey and Company, an American based consulting firm, is one of the first big companies to pay for their role in the opioid crisis. The firm signed an agreement with 47 states, 5 territories and the District of Columbia to settle a myriad of lawsuits. The amount of money McKinsey will pay is estimated to reach almost $600 million USD.
The opioid crisis has been devastating American families for over a decade now. 470,000 deaths in the States have been traced back to opioids since 2000. The crisis has only gotten worse in 2020 and 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened rates of drug and alcohol addiction. One of the largest companies at fault for the crisis is Purdue Pharma, who manufactured the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin.
It is McKinsey’s work with Purdue that has forced them to settle these lawsuits. Legal documents that were unveiled in recent months proved that McKinsey worked in tandem with Purdue to boost drug sales, even as the opioid crisis was reaching its peak.
“McKinsey’s cynical and calculated marketing tactics helped fuel the opioid crisis by helping Purdue Pharma target those doctors they knew would overprescribe opioids,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “They knew where the money was coming from and zeroed in on it.”
McKinsey allegedly developed a series of strategies to enable Purdue to sell more drugs. These strategies included increasing sales calls to doctors who were known to be more likely to prescribe higher levels of prescription painkillers, and ways to get around restrictions implemented by the government on dosage limits.
Purdue Pharma has faced their own punishment for their role in the crisis. The company has been dissolved, forced to pay almost $8 billion USD, and filed for bankruptcy in 2019. Purdue also faced criminal charges for their conduct.
“We deeply regret that we did not adequately acknowledge the tragic consequences of the epidemic unfolding in our communities,” McKinsey Global Managing Partner Kevin Sneader said in a statement. “With this agreement, we hope to be part of the solution to the opioid crisis in the U.S.”
The settlement money coming from McKinsey has been earmarked for drug treatment programs and further government measures to fight the opioid crisis. The settlement that the company reached is absent any admission of wrongdoing. Meanwhile, there are still plenty of other lawsuits still outstanding against other companies who are alleged to have played a role in this epidemic.