R.I. getting $2.6M from McKinsey & Co. opioid settlement

MCKINSEY & CO.has agreed to a $573 million settlement over its role in the opioid crisis. / AP FILE PHOTO/TOBY TALBOT

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island will receive $2.6 million from a multistate settlement from  consulting firm McKinsey & Co. related to an investigation into the company’s role in working for opioid companies, Attorney General Peter F. Neronha announced on Thursday.

Neronha said that the settlement filings describe how McKinsey contributed to the opioid crisis by promoting marketing schemes and consulting services to opioid manufacturers, including Purdue Pharma, for over a decade.

R.I.’s share of funds from the $573 million settlement, which includes Massachusetts and most other states, will be used exclusively to address the impact of the opioid crisis in the state via treatment, rescue, recovery and prevention programs. A majority of the state’s settlement, $2.14 million, will be paid in the first year of the agreement. State allocations were mainly based on population. Massachusetts will get $13.2 million.

“Far too many lives have been lost or devastated in Rhode Island as a result of the opioid crisis. We recognize that there is no settlement amount that will bring those lives back or undo the pain and suffering so many families are going through,” said Neronha. “We remain committed to continuing to aggressively pursue our litigation against the major companies that manufactured and distributed opioids and hold them accountable for the role they played in Rhode Island’s opioid epidemic.”

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The attorney general’s office said the filings show that, “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.”

The company’s marketing strategies and practices violated the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act, the AGs office said.

In its complaint, the office also alleged that the consulting firm advised Purdue to get into the manufacturing and marketing of opioid rescue and treatment medications in order to profit from the realities of dependence, addiction, and abuse.

As part of the settlement agreement, McKinsey will prepare tens of thousands of its internal documents detailing its work for Purdue Pharma and other opioid companies for public disclosure online. The firm also 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, the attorney general’s office said.

“We deeply regret that we did not adequately acknowledge the tragic consequences of the epidemic unfolding in our communities,” McKinsey Global Managing Partner Kevin Sneader said in a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday, noting the company cooperated with investigations. ”With this agreement, we hope to be part of the solution to the opioid crisis in the U.S.”

The AP reported that McKinsey’s role in the opioid crisis came into focus in recent months in legal documents that were made public as part of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma’s efforts to settle claims against it through bankruptcy court. They showed the company long worked with Purdue to boost sales even as the extent of the opioid epidemic became clear.

Some documents showed it was trying to “supercharge” flagging OxyContin sales in 2013. Its efforts over the years included encouraging Purdue sales representatives to focus on doctors who already prescribed high volumes of OxyContin and to try to move patients to more potent doses of the drug.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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