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AG Nessel, Bipartisan Coalition Reach $573M Settlement with McKinsey & Co. for 'Turbocharging' Opioid Epidemic with Purdue Pharma

LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has joined 46 other attorneys general in a $573 million settlement with one of the world’s largest consulting firms, McKinsey & Co., resolving investigations into the company’s role in working for opioid companies, helping those companies promote their drugs, and profiting from the opioid epidemic.  

The settlement, after payment of costs, will be used to abate problems caused by opioids in the participating states. Michigan will receive more than $19.5 million from the settlement. This is the first multistate opioid settlement to result in substantial payment to the states to address the crisis. 

In addition to providing funds to address the epidemic, the agreement calls for McKinsey to prepare tens of thousands of its internal documents detailing its work for Purdue Pharma and other opioid companies for public disclosure online. In addition, McKinsey agreed to adopt a strict document retention plan, continue its investigation into allegations that two of its partners tried to destroy documents in response to investigations of Purdue Pharma, implement a strict ethics code that all partners must agree to each year, and stop advising companies on potentially dangerous Schedule II and III narcotics.   

"This settlement illustrates that attorneys general across this nation are committed to holding companies accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic and equally dedicated to securing financial resources to assist our residents and communities as we continue to address the widespread suffering caused by this crisis,” said Nessel.  “I want to be clear, this one case, while significant, is only the beginning, and our collective efforts are underway to obtain extensive additional support for those grappling with addiction and to ensure those responsible for creating it answer for their actions.” 

The effort is supported by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

“I appreciate the ongoing and important work of the Department of Attorney General to ensure accountability for the opioid crisis that has harmed so many families here in Michigan,” Whitmer said.

Today’s filings describe how McKinsey contributed to the opioid crisis by promoting marketing schemes and consulting services to opioid manufacturers, including OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, for over a decade. The complaint, filed with the settlement, details how McKinsey advised Purdue on how to maximize profits from its opioid products, including targeting high-volume opioid prescribers, using specific messaging to get physicians to prescribe more OxyContin to more patients, and circumventing pharmacy restrictions in order to deliver high-dose prescriptions.  

When states began to sue Purdue’s directors for their implementation of McKinsey’s marketing schemes, McKinsey partners began emailing about deleting documents and emails related to their work for Purdue. 

The opioid epidemic has led to considerable harm to individuals and communities in Michigan over the last 20 years. During this time, thousands of Michiganders have died from an opioid overdose. On an economic level, these deaths—and the impacts on Michiganders who have struggled with opioid addiction—have created considerable costs to Michigan in the form of health care, child welfare, criminal justice, and many other programs needed to lessen the epidemic. It has also resulted in lost economic opportunity and productivity. On the social level, opioid addiction, abuse and overdose deaths have torn families apart, damaged relationships and eroded the social fabric of communities.   

Today’s filing is the latest action Attorney General Nessel has taken to combat the opioid epidemic and to hold accountable those who are responsible for creating and fueling the crisis. In December 2019, Michigan became the first state in the country to sue major opioid distributors as drug dealers when it filed a lawsuit against Cardinal Health Inc., McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp. and Walgreens in Wayne County Circuit Court.  That case remains in litigation. 

The states’ investigation was led by an executive committee made up of the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont. The executive committee is joined by Attorney General Nessel and the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the District of Columbia, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

A copy of the Michigan settlement will be available once entered by the Ingham County Circuit Court and signed by the judge.