Consulting giant McKinsey & Company agreed to a $78 million settlement in a case over its role in advising opioid manufacturers to design misleading marketing campaigns.
A group of U.S. health insurers and company benefit plans, referred to in court documents as third-party payors, alleged in the suit that the firm helped add fuel to the fire in the opioid abuse epidemic by advising drug manufacturers such as Purdue Pharma in crafting deceptive marketing campaigns for opioids.
The potential settlement, the agreement to which was filed Friday, still requires a judge’s approval. If presiding judge Charles R. Breyer, district judge for the Northern District of California, signs off on the settlement, McKinsey has two weeks from the approval date to pay $78 million to the plaintiffs by wire.
The payment would establish a fund to reimburse third party payors for some or all of their prescription opioid costs.
The settlement comes two years after McKinsey paid $573 million to 49 state attorneys general, Washington, D.C. and five territories in a similar case.
Shortly after the 2021 settlement, McKinsey ousted then-leader, Kevin Sneader. Bob Sternfels took his place in July of the same year.
The settlement also comes more than a year after the House Oversight Committee released a report detailing McKinsey’s conflicts of interests in taking contracts for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) while working for opioid manufacturers. The report also alleged McKinsey used its government consulting work to attract more business from drug manufacturers and attempt to influence government officials to clients’ advantage.
The committee then summoned Sternfels to testify in a hearing examining its simultaneous work with the FDA and opioid manufacturers, and its potential role in exacerbating the opioid crisis.
Nearly 645,000 people died from overdoses involving opioids from 1999-2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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