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McKinsey to pay $78 million in US opioid settlement for its work for pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma

Consulting firm McKinsey & Co has agreed to pay $78 million to resolve claims by U.S. health insurers and benefit plans that it fueled an opioid addiction epidemic through its work for pharmaceutical companies , notably the manufacturer of OxyContin Purdue Pharma.

The settlement was disclosed in documents filed Friday in federal court in San Francisco. It’s the latest in a series of deals McKinsey has reached to resolve lawsuits related to the U.S. opioid epidemic.

The plaintiffs accused McKinsey, a leading global consulting firm, of contributing to the deadly drug crisis by helping drugmakers, including Purdue Pharma, design deceptive marketing plans and boost sales of painkillers.

McKinsey previously paid $641.5 million to resolve state attorneys general claims and another $230 million to resolve local government claims. He also settled cases for Native American tribes.

Friday’s class-action settlement, which requires a judge’s approval, resolves claims from so-called third-party payers, such as insurers that provide health and wellness benefits.

Paul Geller, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said in a statement that the drug crisis was caused by an oversupply of dangerous and addictive drugs, and that the case was intended to “recoup some of the money spent on over-prescribed pills.”

McKinsey has not admitted wrongdoing. In a statement, the company said it continued to believe its prior work was lawful. It also said it committed in 2019 to no longer advise clients on any opioid-related activities.

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed by states, local governments and Native American tribes, accusing pharmaceutical companies of downplaying the risks of opioid painkillers, and distributors and pharmacies of ignoring warning signs that they were the subject of illegal trafficking.

The litigation resulted in more than $50 billion in settlements with drug manufacturers, distributors and pharmacy chains.

Nearly 645,000 people died in the United States from opioid overdoses, prescription or illicit, between 1999 and 2021, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month heard a challenge filed by President Joe Biden’s administration to Purdue Pharma’s multibillion-dollar bankruptcy settlement, resolving related claims against the drugmaker.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; edited by Diane Craft

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