International consulting behemoth McKinsey & Company agrees to pay $573 million to nearly all states and the District of Columbia and U.S. territories over its role in the opioid crisis for its marketing of OxyContin.
Under the agreement, McKinsey will not admit to any wrongdoing, and most of the settlement will go toward treatment and rehabilitation programs in communities devastated by opioids. The deal forestalls civil lawsuits threatened by states.
The marketing giant apologizes for its role in the crisis
Prior to the agreement, McKinsey issued a rare apology in December, owning up to its stealthy work for opioid makers marketing the powerfully addictive drugs. Sources say, as part of the agreement, the consulting giant will make public thousands of pages of its work for Purdue Pharma and other drug companies.
Their role first became public during bankruptcy proceedings against Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin. Documents showed McKinsey helped Purdue ramp up opioid sales, even after the addiction risks had become public knowledge.
The fallout over the opioid crisis isn’t over
Lawsuits are still active against pharmaceutical companies McKesson and Johnson & Johnson as well as retailer Walmart over the opioid crisis. Those cases have stalled mainly due to the pandemic, but settlement talks are reportedly still happening.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 400,000 Americans have died from opioid addiction. In spite of the well-documented risks associated with the powerful drugs, they were a massive source of revenue for drug companies, retailers and distributors.