McKinsey settles with health insurers for $78 million over opioid work

03 January 2024 1 min. read

McKinsey & Company has agreed to pay $78 million to resolve claims from US health insurers and benefit plans that it helped fuel the opioid crisis, Reuters reported on Friday.

A federal court filing on Friday revealed the settlement, which is the last in a series of settlements McKinsey has reached to resolve lawsuits over its involvement in the US opioid epidemic.

The New York-based consulting firm provided strategic marketing services to opioid manufacturers, including Purdue Pharma, to help boost sales of painkillers such as OxyContin.

The firm’s advisory work included a September 2013 presentation slide outlining a “Wildfire” sales strategy to increase the amount of sales calls to certain doctors to boost the number of prescriptions written. The presentation also proposed cash prizes for top performing OxyContin sales representatives.

McKinsey in 2021 agreed to pay $641 million to settle claims from state attorneys general and in 2022 agreed to pay $230 million to resolve claims by local governments and school districts.

In the prior opioid-related settlements, as well as the recent deal with US health plans, McKinsey has admitted no wrongdoing.

The Friday settlement resolved claims by third-party payers, including insurers, who were seeking to recover money spent on over-prescribed opioid pills.

McKinsey claims its past advisory work on opioids was lawful. The global consultancy in 2019 pledged to no longer advise on opioid-related business.

Nearly 645,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2021, according to the CDC. Opioid-related lawsuits filed by states, local governments, and Native American tribes have resulted in more than $50 billion in settlements with drug manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacy chains.