Report: McKinsey Is Target of Opioid-Related Criminal Probe

Grand jury has been empaneled after years-long federal investigation, sources say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2024 6:23 AM CDT
Report: McKinsey Is Target of Opioid-Related Criminal Probe
McKinsey did consulting work for clients including the maker OxyContin.   (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

McKinsey & Company, the consulting firm that advised companies how to "supercharge" opioid sales, is the target of a criminal investigation into its role in a crisis that has killed more Americans than any war, insiders say. Sources tell the Wall Street Journal that the Justice Department is investigating advice McKinsey gave to major drug companies. Federal investigators are also looking into allegations that McKinsey may have obstructed justice with its handling of consulting records, the sources say. According to the Journal's sources, the investigation has been underway for years and a grand jury in Virginia has been set up to hear evidence.

Sources tell the New York Times that the investigation is being led by the US attorneys' offices in Massachusetts and the Western District of Virginia. The company has paid around $1 billion, without admitting wrongdoing, in recent years to settle lawsuits accusing it of exacerbating opioid addiction. The Times reports that by 2018, senior consultants at the firm "were growing increasingly worried that they might be held to account for their opioid work." Two senior employees were fired in 2020 after it emerged that they had exchanged emails in 2018 discussing destroying documents connected to opioids.

Records show that in 2013, McKinsey advised Oxycontin maker Purdue Pharma on how it could boost sales by $100 million a year with moves including making more sales calls to doctors who were already writing the highest number of prescriptions, the Journal reports. The CDC says almost 645,000 people died from opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2021. Overdoses are now the leading cause of death in people 18 to 45 and deaths hit a record of more than 110,000 last year, the Financial Times reports. (More opioids stories.)

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