Over the past two decades, nearly 500,000 American’s have lost their lives due to an addiction to prescription opioids. States have been trying to hold someone accountable for years, particularly the pharmaceutical companies and consultants who they believe both created and profited from America’s addictions. In 2007, Purdue Pharma, plead guilty to federal criminal charges, admitting that it misled doctors and regulators about the risks of its painkiller OxyContin. In 2013, the pharmacy chain Walgreens’, reached a settlement with the government after a federal crack-down on illegal opioid prescriptions.
Pharmaceutical companies, like Purdue Pharma, also began to feel the pain of the government crackdown after sales of opioid painkillers to Walgreens’ began to fall. Purdue relied on its consultant, McKinsey & Co., during this time. McKinsey told Purdue that it could “band together” with other opioid makers to head off “strict” treatments by the Food and Drug Administration. Now, the consulting firm will pay $573 million to settle the lawsuit they are facing.
The Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, was the first attorney general to begin investigating the wrongdoings of pharmaceutical companies like Purdue and its consultant McKinsey & Co. Now, the firm has reached agreements with attorney general’s in 49 states, the District of Columbia as well as five territories, to settle investigations into its role in helping fuel opioid sales in the United States. The settlements come after thousands of documents and emails relating to McKinsey’s business dealings, that also prove how McKinsey worked to drive sales of Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin painkiller, were unearthed by state attorney generals.
Kevin Sneaker, the firm’s global managing partner, stated that the company did not adequately acknowledge the consequences of the epidemic unfolding throughout communities in the United States. He also said that he hopes the agreements will allow McKinsey to be a part of the solution. However, McKinsey & Co. still has not admitted wrongdoing in court. The penalties are supposed to be paid to the states within 60 days and many states have said that they plan to use the funds to invest in opioid treatment, prevention, and recovery programs. McKinsey may also have more claims in the coming months in some states where local governments still plan to sue. Mingo County in West Virginia, which has been one of the hardest-hit states in the country, filed suit against McKinsey last week. The Biden administration could also take action against the firm.