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Attorney General Donovan Settles Opioids Case with McKinsey

February 4, 2021

Vermont to Receive $1.536 Million in National Settlement

Contact: Charity R. Clark, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171

Attorney General T.J. Donovan today announced that the State of Vermont will receive $1.536 million as part of a multi-state settlement with McKinsey & Company, one of the world’s largest consulting firms, for the company’s role in the opioid epidemic. The settlement resolves investigations into the company’s work for opioid companies, helping those companies to promote their drugs and profit from the opioid epidemic. Attorney General Donovan was a member of the executive committee that led the investigation and the settlement negotiations that resulted in this settlement joined by attorneys general from 47 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories.

Today’s settlement, totaling $573 million, is the first multi-state opioid settlement to result in substantial payment to the states to address the epidemic. In addition to providing funds to address the crisis, the agreement calls for McKinsey to prepare tens of thousands of its internal documents, detailing its work for Purdue Pharma and other opioid companies for public disclosure online.

“McKinsey helped drug companies like Purdue create the opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Donovan. “This settlement will not only bring money back to Vermont, but it will require McKinsey to change its practices and to make internal documents public. While we will never be able to make whole the individuals, families, and communities that have been devastated by the opioid epidemic, my hope is that by taking McKinsey out of the opioid business, we can better protect Vermonters and Vermont communities.”

Today’s filings describe how McKinsey contributed to the opioid epidemic by promoting marketing schemes and consulting services to opioid manufacturers, including OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, for over a decade. The complaint, filed with the settlement, details how McKinsey advised Purdue on how to maximize profits from its opioid products, including targeting high-volume opioid prescribers, using specific messaging to get physicians to prescribe more OxyContin to more patients, and circumventing pharmacy restrictions in order to deliver high-dose prescriptions.

When states began to sue Purdue’s directors for their implementation of McKinsey’s marketing schemes, McKinsey partners began emailing about deleting documents and emails related to their work for Purdue.

In addition to paying cash to Vermont, McKinsey has agreed to adopt a strict document retention plan, continue its investigation into allegations that two of its partners tried to destroy documents in response to investigations of Purdue Pharma, implement a strict ethics code that all partners must agree to each year, and stop advising companies on potentially dangerous Schedule II and III narcotics.

Today’s filing is the latest action Attorney General Donovan has taken to combat the opioid epidemic and to hold accountable those who are responsible for creating and fueling the crisis.

Here are links to the complaint and proposed consent judgment filed today.