McKinsey agrees to $78 million settlement with US health plans over opioid crisis

McKinsey & Co. Agrees to $78 Million Settlement Over Its Role in Opioid Epidemic

Consulting firm McKinsey & Co. has agreed to pay $78 million to resolve claims by U.S. health insurers and benefit plans that it fueled an epidemic of opioid addiction through its work for drug companies including OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma.

The settlement was disclosed in papers filed on Friday in federal court in San Francisco. It marked the last in a series of settlements McKinsey has reached resolving lawsuits over the U.S. opioid epidemic.

Plaintiffs accused McKinsey, one of the leading global consulting firms, of contributing to the deadly drug crisis by helping drug manufacturers including Purdue Pharma design deceptive marketing plans and boost sales of painkillers.

The $78 million settlement will be distributed among 47 states, the District of Columbia, and thousands of local governments. However, McKinsey did not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.

In a statement, McKinsey said it recognized the “pain and tragedy that opioid abuse and addiction has caused and are deeply committed to being part of the solution.” The company also stated that it had stopped doing opioid-related work and decided to contribute to the fight against opioid addiction.

Despite the settlement, the controversy surrounding McKinsey’s role in the opioid epidemic continues to haunt the firm. The Justice Department, 49 states, Washington, D.C., and five territories reached a $573 million settlement with McKinsey last year over its work with Purdue Pharma and other drug companies.

The firm had advised Purdue Pharma on how to “turbocharge” OxyContin sales, according to the blistering lawsuit filed by the Justice Department. McKinsey reportedly recommended sales strategies that targeted high-volume OxyContin prescribers, urged pharmacy benefit managers to silence concerns about the drug’s potency, and advised Purdue to pay rebates to distributors based on their opioid sales.

The opioid epidemic has devastated communities across the United States with tens of thousands of lives lost each year to opioid overdoses. The crisis has also led to a surge in addiction treatment costs, strained law enforcement resources, and left a trail of ruined families in its wake.

The multi-million dollar settlements reached by McKinsey serve as a stark reminder of the immense human cost associated with the opioid epidemic and the accountability that consulting firms and drug companies must face for their role in fueling the crisis.

The $78 million settlement is a small step toward addressing the catastrophic impact of the opioid epidemic, but it may provide some measure of justice and financial relief to the communities and families affected by the crisis. As the legal battles continue, it remains to be seen whether McKinsey’s efforts to distance itself from its past involvement in opioid-related work will be enough to rebuild its tainted reputation.


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