NEWS8 February 2021

McKinsey settles over opioid claims

Healthcare Legal News North America

US – Consultancy firm McKinsey & Company has reached agreements with 49 state attorneys general, five territories and the District of Columbia, to pay $573m to resolve claims over its past work for opioid manufacturers.

The settlement follows an investigation into McKinsey’s work with pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma on opioid products.

McKinsey said it believed that its past work was “lawful” and did not admit wrongdoing or liability.

In addition to the funds, as part of the agreement, McKinsey was called on to prepare internal documents detailing its work for Purdue Pharma and other opioid companies for public disclosure.

The company said it has terminated two partners who had “communicated about document deletion”.

It must also implement an ethics code and has agreed to stop advising companies on Schedule I and II narcotics.

McKinsey announced two years ago that it would not advise clients on opioid-related business. The company has updated its risk and governance processes, including appointing a general counsel with a background in ethics and governance.

In a statement announcing the settlement, the Massachussetts attorney general office said it was the first multi-state opioid settlement resulting in “substantial payment to the states to address the epidemic”.

Kevin Sneader, global managing partner, McKinsey, said: “We chose to resolve this matter in order to provide fast, meaningful support to communities across the United States. We deeply regret that we did not adequately acknowledge the tragic consequences of the epidemic unfolding in our communities. With this agreement, we hope to be part of the solution to the opioid crisis in the US.”

New York attorney general Letitia James said: “McKinsey’s cynical and calculated marketing tactics helped fuel the opioid crisis by helping Purdue Pharma target those doctors they knew would overprescribe opioids.” 

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