McKinsey & Co Settles for $78 Million in Opioid Epidemic Lawsuit

McKinsey & Co, a prominent consulting firm, has agreed to a $78 million settlement to resolve accusations linking its work with drug companies to the exacerbation of the opioid crisis in the United States. This settlement, disclosed in federal court in San Francisco, represents the final resolution in a string of lawsuits McKinsey faced over its involvement in the opioid epidemic. Plaintiffs alleged that McKinsey contributed to the crisis by aiding drug manufacturers, including Purdue Pharma, in devising misleading marketing strategies that bolstered the sales of potent painkillers.

The consulting giant had previously settled claims with state attorneys general, local governments, and Native American tribes, totaling $641.5 million and $230 million respectively. This recent class action settlement, subject to judicial approval, targets third-party payers like health insurers, aiming to compensate for costs incurred due to overprescription of opioids. Paul Geller, representing the plaintiffs, highlighted the oversupply of addictive drugs as a central cause of the crisis and expressed the intent of the case to recoup expenses linked to the excessive distribution of these pills.

McKinsey, while not admitting any wrongdoing, reiterated its belief in the lawfulness of its past actions. The firm stated it ceased advising clients on any opioid-related business in 2019. The opioid epidemic has triggered a wave of litigation involving states, local entities, and Native American tribes against drug companies, distributors, and pharmacies. These legal battles have culminated in settlements amounting to over $50 billion with various stakeholders within the pharmaceutical supply chain. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid-related overdoses claimed the lives of nearly 645,000 individuals in the U.S. between 1999 and 2021. Furthermore, the U.S. Supreme Court recently entertained a challenge from President Joe Biden’s administration concerning Purdue Pharma’s multibillion-dollar bankruptcy settlement addressing claims associated with the drugmaker.

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