Originally on WWAY News
February 4, 2021

RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) — Attorney General Josh Stein has announced a $573 million multi-state settlement with one of the world’s largest consulting firms, McKinsey & Company, resolving investigations into the company’s role in advising opioid companies how to promote their drugs and profit from the opioid epidemic.

“The opioid epidemic has ripped families apart all across our state,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “Just as we were making progress in fighting back, the COVID-19 pandemic made overdose deaths spike again. I am committed to doing everything in my power to fight this epidemic – and that includes holding accountable those who are responsible for its creation and have profited from it. We allege that McKinsey helped to develop and promote schemes that led to widespread over-prescription of Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin. Not only have we put a stop to this dangerous work, but we’re also bringing much-needed resources to the fight against addiction.”

The multi-state opioid settlement was negotiated by a bipartisan coalition of 53 attorneys general from around the country.

North Carolina will receive $18,984,494.71 over five years, with the vast majority coming in the first year. The settlement requires that it be spent on opioid abatement.

In addition to providing funds to address the crisis, the agreement requires McKinsey to produce tens of thousands of its internal documents detailing its work for Purdue Pharma and other opioid companies for public disclosure online. In addition, going forward, McKinsey 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 filings describe how McKinsey contributed to the opioid crisis 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 to patients.

One of the treatment centers likely to benefit from the funds is Coastal Horizons in Wilmington.

“There are so many things that can be done with these kinds of funds, but I think of the bread and butter of these being things like prevention efforts, treatment efforts, giving incentives to recruit people to work in this field,” said Vice President of Clinical Services Kenny House.

House says there’s been a spike in opioid overdoses since the start of COVID-19.

“I think the pandemic itself gives rise to many things that exacerbate health problems- people’s resources in terms of their mental health, whether it’s depression or anxiety, family relationships, social relationships,” House said.

Stein says negotiations with opioid manufacturers and distributors are ongoing and he expects additional settlements in the future.

“If the participants in those negotiations will step up and do the right thing, we can bring desperately needed relief to thousands more people in North Carolina and millions across the country,” Stein said.

Click here for more information on Coastal Horizons.