CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY)- West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey reached a $10 million settlement Thursday with a major consulting firm he blames for having designed marketing plans and programs that helped fuel the state’s opioid epidemic.
The settlement resolves allegations that McKinsey & Company Inc. collected millions from the nation’s largest opioid manufacturers, most notably a more than 15-year relationship with Purdue Pharma, to boost sales of OxyContin even well after the opioid epidemic peaked.
The Attorney General alleges McKinsey targeted high-volume prescribers, considered ways to conceal its activity and involved itself in conflicts of interest by consulting with governments and nonprofits to clean up the very crisis it helped create, all while still working for those same opioid makers.
“Marketing efforts to boost the profits of opioid drug makers have caused – and continue to cause – immense harm to West Virginia,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Such strategies valued profits above human life, and those responsible must be held accountable. These funds must be used to solve the root causes of opioid abuse, and I am committed to working to develop a long-term plan to help our state’s citizens and communities on a road to recovery.”
The settlement and corresponding lawsuit were filed Thursday in Greenbrier County Circuit Court.
The settlement requires McKinsey to pay $10 million to the state, prohibits the New York-based company from doing business related to opioids and requires McKinsey to develop a records retention system. The lawsuit alleged that some employees had considered deleting or destroying documents related to the company’s work with Purdue.
The lawsuit alleges McKinsey’s strategy targeted prescribers who wrote the most prescriptions to boost sales and specific patients to increase brand loyalty. For instance, McKinsey allegedly urged Purdue to consider direct-to-patient, mail-order pharmacies after scrutiny by a large pharmacy chain.
The Attorney General further alleges McKinsey viewed the growing drug abuse crisis itself as a profit-making opportunity by suggesting Purdue manufacture and market opioid treatment and rescue medications.
In the face of mounting overdose deaths and lawsuits, McKinsey also proposed a plan for Purdue’s eventual exit from the opioid business.
The lawsuit alleges McKinsey also worked with Johnson & Johnson, Mallinckrodt LLC and Endo Health Solutions Inc., along with Purdue. Attorney General Morrisey filed suit against each of those manufacturers and one other in 2019.
The settlement does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by McKinsey. All parties agreed to the settlement to avoid the expense and uncertainty of further litigation.
Legal work regarding the McKinsey settlement was handled within the Attorney General’s Office, meaning no portion of the $10 million settlement will be diverted to reimburse outside law firms. That provides a substantial savings for state taxpayers and helps ensure proceeds fund the agreement’s intended purpose – remediation of the drug abuse crisis in West Virginia.