Consulting giant McKinsey & Company settled a case for $78 million over its involvement in advising opioid manufacturers on misleading marketing strategies, facing allegations of contributing to the opioid abuse epidemic by crafting deceptive campaigns for drug companies like Purdue Pharma.
McKinsey’s Settlement and Legal Process
The $78 million settlement agreement, filed for approval, involves U.S. health insurers and company benefit plans accusing McKinsey of aiding opioid manufacturers in misleading marketing. Pending Judge Charles R. Breyer’s approval in the Northern District of California, McKinsey has two weeks to wire the payment, establishing a fund for reimbursing third-party payors for opioid expenses.
This settlement follows McKinsey’s prior $573 million payout to states and territories in a similar case two years ago. Kevin Sneader’s ousting as the firm’s leader post-2021 settlement resulted in Bob Sternfels assuming the role in July of the same year.
The reimbursement aims to cover third-party payors’ prescription opioid costs, a step towards addressing the opioid crisis that claimed nearly 645,000 lives due to opioid overdoses from 1999 to 2021, as reported by the CDC.
McKinsey’s Controversial Role and House Oversight Report
The settlement’s timing aligns with revelations from a House Oversight Committee report, highlighting McKinsey’s conflicts of interest regarding FDA contracts and its work with opioid manufacturers. The report alleges that the firm sought to influence government officials while working for both parties.
Sternfels faced the committee’s scrutiny, summoned to testify over McKinsey’s simultaneous work with the FDA and opioid manufacturers, exploring its potential contribution to the opioid crisis.
McKinsey’s actions raised concerns about conflicts of interest and ethical practices within its consulting engagements.