Allegations about McKinsey & Company: Blue Chip Black Eye or CRISPR-Proof Genetic Defect?

July 5, 2022

Fungible documents can be informative. “Documents Reveal McKinsey’s Role Increasing Opioid Sales Until 2019” – if the documents are “real” real—appear to illustrate what might be described as errors in judgment. What I call the opioid moment may attract like fly paper other names.

The write up states:

McKinsey & Company found opportunities to boost opioid manufacturers’ sales amid the addiction crisis from 2004 to 2019, new documents published by the University of California at San Francisco and Johns Hopkins University show.

The fact that the documents are in the hands of educational institutions and not “real” newspapers adds some risk to McKinsey. Academics have colleagues with specialized skills, computer resources, and those ever helpful graduate students. Some graduate students enjoy assisting senior academics. Others, like myself, wanted to either get paid or be exempted from often useless required courses. (Does anyone benefit from the student of economics? Answer this question whilst stepping over street people in San Francisco.

The write up notes that there are 114,000 pages of documents. McKinsey’s advice may have been the application of what I call billing logic. The idea is that one bills. If a blue chip consultant can offer advice which yields more billable hours, good things happen for the blue chip consultant. The client? Well, in this case, the alleged correlation of the death of “half a million people” as a result of certain actions by McKinsey and its clients. Cited in the article are the estimable outfits Purdue Pharma, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, and Mallinckrodt.

McKinsey, according to the article, shifted gears and allegedly “recognized the terrible consequences of the opioid epidemic.” Yep, recognizing and taking action after the fact are interesting approaches to billing. The article also states that a McKinsey professional spokesperson who presumably did not have a child die of a synthetic opioid overdose, acknowledged “our role in serving opioid manufacturers.”

Not a peep about billing nothing about the incentives in place to allow certain engagements to be accepted and expanded over a period of years. Blue chips are unregulated. Some MBA and analytic types self regulated. Perhaps a different approach is needed? Would one of those killed by diffusion of synthetic opioids have been able to offer a new approach?

Not even McKinsey’s whiz kids can ask a dead person a question in an interview designed for fact finding.

Stephen E Arnold, July 5, 2022


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