McKinsey Settles for Nearly $600 Million Over Role in Opioid Crisis

The consulting firm has reached agreements with 49 states because of its sales advice to drugmakers, including Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin.

Michael Forsythe and

McKinsey & Company, the consultant to blue-chip corporations and governments around the world, has agreed to pay nearly $600 million to settle investigations into its role in helping “turbocharge” opioid sales, a rare instance of it being held publicly accountable for its work with clients.

The firm has reached a $573 million agreement with attorneys general in 47 states, the District of Columbia and five territories, according to a court filing in Massachusetts on Thursday. Separate deals were announced in Washington State, for $13 million, and in West Virginia, for $10 million. Nevada, not party to the agreements, will continue to pursue its opioid investigation, according to the attorney general’s office.

The settlements come after lawsuits unearthed a trove of documents showing how McKinsey worked to drive sales of Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin painkiller amid an opioid crisis in the United States that has contributed to the deaths of more than 450,000 people over the past two decades.

McKinsey’s extensive work with Purdue included advising it to focus on selling lucrative high-dose pills, the records show, even after the drugmaker pleaded guilty in 2007 to federal criminal charges that it had misled doctors and regulators about OxyContin’s risks. The firm also told Purdue that it could “band together” with other opioid makers to head off “strict treatment” by the Food and Drug Administration.

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