The Cost of Clever

January 1, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

A New Year and I want to highlight an interesting story which I spotted in SFGate: “Consulting Firm McKinsey Agrees to $78 Million Settlement with Insurers over Opioids.” The focus on efficiency and logic created an interesting consulting opportunity for a blue-chip firm. That organization responded. The SFGate story reports:

Consulting firm McKinsey and Co. has agreed to pay $78 million to settle claims from insurers and health care funds that its work with drug companies helped fuel an opioid addiction crisis.


A blue-consultant has been sent to the tool shed by Ms. Justice. The sleek wizard is not happy because the tool shed is the location for severe punishment by Ms. Justice. Thanks, MSFT Copilot Bing thing.

What did the prestigious firm’s advisors assist Purdue Pharma to achieve? The story says:

The insurers argued that McKinsey worked with Purdue Pharma – the maker of OxyContin – to create and employ aggressive marketing and sales tactics to overcome doctors’ reservations about the highly addictive drugs. Insurers said that forced them to pay for prescription opioids rather than safer, non-addictive and lower-cost drugs, including over-the-counter pain medication. They also had to pay for the opioid addiction treatment that followed.

The write up presents McKinsey’s view of its service this way:

“As we have stated previously, we continue to believe that our past work was lawful and deny allegations to the contrary,” the company said, adding that it reached a settlement to avoid protracted litigation. McKinsey said it stopped advising clients on any opioid-related business in 2019.

What’s interesting is that the so-called opioid crisis reveals the consequences of a certain mental orientation. The goal of generating a desired outcome for a commercial enterprise can have interesting and, in this case, expensive consequences. Have some of these methods influenced other organizations? Will blue-chip consulting firms and efficiency-oriented engineers learn from wood shed visits?

Happy New Year everyone.

Stephen E Arnold, January 1, 2024


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