McKinsey & Company to Settle for $573M Over Alleged Role in Opioid Crisis

Global consulting firm McKinsey & Company has agreed to pay $573 million in a settlement with attorneys general in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories over its alleged role in perpetuating the opioid crisis that has caused the deaths of approximately 450,000 people, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

According to Thursday’s news release from the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, the settlement, which excludes Nevada, Washington, and West Virginia, will include a $573 million payment distributed over five years among the states and territories involved to put toward opioid relief efforts; a public disclosure of internal documents detailing McKinsey’s work with partnered opioid manufacturers; the implementation of an ethics code; and an agreement to cease consulting companies on developing, marketing, and selling opioid-based Schedule II and III drugs.

Also included in the agreement is a promise to investigate an alleged attempt by two McKinsey partners at tampering with documents possibly related to the firm’s work with opioid giant Purdue Pharma, according to the release. The release does not name the partners accused of tampering.

According to the New York Times, in 2018, McKinsey official Martin Elling wrote to another firm partner, Arnab Ghatak, “It probably makes sense to have a quick conversation with the risk committee to see if we should be doing anything” other than “eliminating all our documents and emails. Suspect not but as things get tougher there someone might turn to us.” In December 2020, both executives were put on administrative leave pending an outside investigation, according to a letter to Congress from McKinsey’s North America managing partner Liz Hilton Segel.

Purdue Pharma agreed in October 2020 to pay more than $8 billion across criminal and civil settlements over allegations related to its propensity in pushing sales of its opioids products.

Although West Virginia is not a party to this settlement, Law Street Media reported Tuesday that Mingo County, West Virginia, filed a complaint against McKinsey alleging complicity in the heightened sales of Purdue’s opioids in recent years.