McKinsey is in advanced talks with attorneys general in several states in the United States to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to settle civil lawsuits over his role in advising drug companies held responsible for the country. opioid epidemic.
Two people familiar with the talks said the deal being negotiated would not imply any acknowledgment of wrongdoing or liability on the part of the consultant. A final settlement was still days or weeks away, they warned, so some details could still change.
“McKinsey continues to cooperate with government agencies on matters relating to our past work for opioid manufacturers and we will not comment at this time,” a spokesperson for the consulting firm said.
McKinsey advised Purdue Pharma, which makes the potent prescription opioid OxyContin, and is owned by members of the billionaire Sackler family. Purdue recently admitted that he “knowingly and intentionally conspired and agreed with others to help and encourage” doctors to dispense drugs “without a legitimate medical purpose.”
The consulting firm has previously apologized for its role in the attempt to revive OxyContin sales. Late last year, he said his work with Purdue was designed to support the legal prescribing of opioids for patients with “legitimate medical needs”.
But he added, “Looking back at our customer service during the opioid crisis, we recognize that we have not sufficiently recognized the epidemic unfolding in our communities or the terrible impact of abuse and abuse. opioid dependence on millions of families across the country.
The apology came after new McKinsey documents were revealed in November by state attorneys general in connection with Purdue’s bankruptcy proceeding.
They included a proposal to compensate insurance companies if a patient became dependent or overdosed, giving the insurer $ 14,000 per patient. The plan does not appear to have been implemented.
The case also included emails, such as the one sent in July 2019, in which a McKinsey partner suggested he was aware of the risk of litigation facing Purdue.
“It probably makes sense to have a quick conversation with the risk committee to see if we should be doing anything other than [sic] by eliminating all our documents and emails, ”one said,“ Don’t you know, but as things get more complicated, someone might turn to us. ”
McKinsey also worked for Johnson & Johnson, which previously made opioids and owned an opioid ingredient maker. In a court case in Oklahoma in 2019, the state showed a 2002 presentation of the company, suggesting that J&J is targeting “patients at high risk of abuse (eg men under 40)” with his drug Duragesic, a patch made from fentanyl, an opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. J&J lost this case but is appealing.
The McKinsey proposed settlement is being negotiated as Purdue Pharma works on a deal with states, counties and cities, as part of its bankruptcy settlement, which could come in early to mid-February.
In October 2020, Purdue Pharma accepted a $ 8 billion criminal and civil settlement with the US Department of Justice. Members of the Sackler family have agreed to pay $ 225 million, while denying the allegations against them.
McKinsey’s global managing partner Kevin Sneader has been keen to draw a line under a succession of reputation crises since his appointment in 2018, issuing new guidelines on how he should select the clients he works for.
But the consulting firm has come under fire in recent days by US Senator Marco Rubio and others after advising Russian staff to “Stay neutral” during demonstrations in support of opposition activist Alexei Navalny.