Treatment of a 32-year-old in Boston after an opioid overdose
Photo: BRIAN SNYDER/ REUTERS
The consulting firm McKinsey has agreed to another million-dollar payment in the dispute over opioid-containing painkillers. This emerges from court documents quoted by the AFP news agency. According to the report, McKinsey wants to pay 230 million US dollars to American authorities to avert a civil lawsuit. The settlement still has to be approved by a judge.
U.S. counties, municipalities, schools, indigenous tribal communities and parents of children in rehab had filed thousands of lawsuits against McKinsey. They accuse the consultants of having developed strategies for the aggressive marketing of opioid-containing painkillers together with pharmaceutical companies. According to court documents, the companies wanted to "maximize opioid revenues."
McKinsey once again defended the sales strategy. "We continue to maintain that all of our past work was lawful and reject allegations to the contrary," the company said in a letter quoted by the Financial Times.
In 2021, the consulting firm had already reached a multimillion-dollar settlement with attorneys general from 50 US states, paying a total of more than $640 million. At that time, it was about working for the now insolvent US pharmaceutical company Purdue and other drug manufacturers.
Purdue, which belongs to the billionaire Sackler family, is the manufacturer of the opioid Oxycontin, which has been particularly widespread in the United States since the nineties. Critics accuse the company of deliberately concealing the risk of addiction and promoting mass prescribing. Purdue has since filed for bankruptcy after numerous lawsuits.
Responsible for most overdoses
Opioids are responsible for the majority of fatal overdoses in the United States. Since 2021, opioids have accounted for more than 75 percent of all deaths, according to the CDC. This includes painkillers as well as illegal drugs such as heroin.
Many experts attribute the opioid crisis to the excessive prescription of opioid-containing painkillers, which until the mid-nineties were reserved for the treatment of the seriously ill. The manufacturers, as well as wholesalers and U.S. pharmacies, are accused of aggressively advertising the funds and failing to respond to warning signs of the addiction crisis.