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Current Criminal Investigation: Federal Probe for Role In Opioid Sales

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  • The federal Department of Justice is currently investigating consulting firm McKinsey & Company based on allegations that they advised major opioid manufacturers on how to maximize sales.
  • This investigation is focused on the firm’s consulting advice to Purdue, Endo International, and Mallinckrodt — allegations point to this advice worsening the opioid addiction epidemic. These three companies have since filed for bankruptcy due to lawsuits accusing them of deceptively marketing their drugs leading to addiction.
  • In response to the investigation, McKinsey has already paid approximately $1 billion in settlements across the U.S, though they have yet to admit any wrongdoing.

The consulting giant McKinsey & Company is currently under a federal criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. The allegations involve the firm’s previous work advising some of the largest opioid manufacturers on strategies to amplify their sales.

Prosecutors are not only investigating the firm’s alleged involvement in the opioid epidemic but are also seeking to determine whether the company or its employees obstructed justice throughout the course of the multi-year investigation.

“Investigators are specifically looking at consulting advice the firm gave to Purdue, Endo International, and Mallinckrodt that government and private plaintiffs have alleged exacerbated the opioid addiction epidemic.”

Interestingly, these three companies have since filed for bankruptcy. This follows lawsuits alleging that they marketed their drugs deceptively, which led to widespread addiction. The investigation is being carried out by two U.S. attorney’s offices, the Western District of Virginia and the District of Massachusetts, and a federal grand jury has been impaneled in Virginia.

McKinsey has not admitted any wrongdoing, yet it has already paid nearly $1 billion in settlements. The settlements have been paid to all 50 U.S. states, five U.S. territories, Washington, D.C., Native American tribes, public school districts, insurance companies, and municipal governments.

The allegations against McKinsey are severe. McKinsey consultants reportedly advised Purdue that sales of the widely addictive painkiller OxyContin could be “turbocharged” by making more sales calls to healthcare providers known for writing significantly larger volumes of the drug’s prescriptions.

In 2018, senior McKinsey consultants allegedly grew nervous that they might be held liable for their work helping opioid manufacturers boost their sales. An incident was mentioned involving Martin Elling, a leader in the firm’s pharmaceutical practice. In the summer of 2018, he allegedly emailed senior McKinsey partner Arnab Ghatak asking if they should destroy documents and records concerning their opioid work.

This attempt to possibly obstruct justice did not go unnoticed. Both men were reportedly fired in 2020 after the existence of the emails came to light. This situation underscores the potential severity of the allegations and probes the question of whether McKinsey was indeed involved in fueling the opioid epidemic.

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