Blue-Chip Consulting Firm Needs Lawyers and Luck

May 15, 2024

McKinsey’s blue chip consultants continue their fancy dancing to explain away an itsy bitsy problem: ruined lives and run-of-the-mill deaths from drug overdoses. The International Business Times reminds us, “McKinsey Under Criminal Investigation Over Alleged Role in Fueling Opioid Epidemic.” The investigation, begun before the pandemic, continues to advance at the glacial pace of justice. Journalist Kiran Tom Sajan writes:

“Global consulting firm McKinsey & Company is under a criminal investigation by the U.S. attorneys’ offices in Massachusetts and the Western District of Virginia over its alleged involvement in fueling the opioid epidemic. The Federal prosecutors, along with the Justice Department’s civil division in Washington, are specifically examining whether the consulting firm participated in a criminal conspiracy by providing advice to Purdue Pharma and other pharmaceutical companies on marketing tactics aimed at increasing sales of prescription painkillers. Purdue is the manufacturer of OxyContin, one of the painkillers that allegedly contributed to widespread addiction and fatal overdoses. Since 2021, McKinsey has reached settlements of approximately $1 billion to resolve investigations and legal actions into its collaboration with opioid manufacturers, primarily Purdue. The company allegedly advised Purdue to intensify its marketing of the drug amid the opioid epidemic, which has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. McKinsey has not admitted any wrongdoing.”

Of course not. We learn McKinsey raked in about $86 million working for Purdue, most of it since the drug firm’s 2007 guilty plea. Sajan notes the investigations do not stop with the question of fueling the epidemic: The Justice Department is also considering whether McKinsey obstructed justice when it fired two incautious partners—they were caught communicating about the destruction of related documents. It is also examining whether the firm engaged in healthcare fraud when it helped Purdue and other opioid sellers make fraudulent Medicare claims. Will McKinsey’s recent settlement with insurance companies lend fuel to that dumpster fire? Will Lady Luck kick her opioid addiction and embrace those McKinsey professionals? Maybe.

Cynthia Murrell, May 15, 2024


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