The global business consulting firm McKinsey & Company has agreed to a $573 million settlement over its role in advising companies on how to “supercharge” opioid sales amid an overdose crisis.
The settlement, announced by the company on Thursday, was reached with 49 State Attorneys General, five territories and the District of Columbia.
Indiana will receive nearly $12.6 million as part of the settlement, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita said.
“The opioid epidemic has devastated communities in Indiana and across the nation, claiming far too many lives,” Rokita said in written comments. “We owe it to Hoosier families to hold those responsible for this crisis accountable and deliver the justice they deserve. I want to thank the attorneys in my office who have worked tirelessly to reach this historic settlement, which will bring substantial and immediate relief to communities across the state.”
Most of the money in the national settlement, which was first reported by The New York Times, would be sent to the states in less than a year, and would be used to abate the national overdose crisis. Prescription opioids and illegal ones such as heroin and illicit fentanyl combined have been linked to the deaths of more than 470,000 Americans since 2000. And the epidemic has deepened amid the coronavirus pandemic.
State and local governments have been filing lawsuits over the past few years against companies that make and sell prescription opioids for their role in the crisis. But going after a consulting firm is a new wrinkle in the litigation.
McKinsey provided documents used in legal proceedings regarding OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, including some that describe its efforts to help the company try to “supercharge” opioid sales in 2013, as reaction to the overdose crisis was taking a toll on prescribing.
“We chose to resolve this matter in order to provide fast, meaningful support to communities across the United States,” Kevin Sneader, global managing partner of McKinsey, said in a statement. “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 U.S.”
Documents made public in Purdue proceedings last year include include emails among McKinsey. One from 2008, a year after the company first pleaded guilty to opioid-related crimes, says board members, including a Sackler family member, “‘blessed’ him to do whatever he thinks is necessary to ‘save the business.’”
Purdue is in bankruptcy court to try to settle lawsuits against it. The company has proposed a settlement that could be worth $10 billion over time. The company last year also pleaded guilty to criminal charges in part of a settlement with the federal government. Both Purdue and members of the Sackler family who own the firm agreed to pay $225 million to the U.S. government as part of the deal.
A group of the largest drug distribution companies plus drugmaker Johnson & Johnson have also been working on a national settlement.