Department of Justice Investigates McKinsey & Co. For Role in Opioid Crisis

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched a criminal investigation into McKinsey & Company on suspicion that the firm advised many of the biggest opioid producers on how to increase sales.

During the multi-year inquiry, prosecutors also look to establish whether the firm or its workers obstructed justice.

The Food and Drug Administration has charged McKinsey with concealing its ties to opioid producers while it was providing advice on pharmaceutical sector regulation.

Rules regarding conflicts of interest may have been breached. The business’s consulting guidance provided to Endo International, Purdue, and Mallinckrodt is the focus of investigators’ attention.  Private litigants and the government have claimed that this advice contributed to the worsening of the opioid addiction problem. The three businesses have filed for bankruptcy as a result of lawsuits that claim they promoted the medication in a misleading manner, leading to addiction.

Two US Attorney’s offices, one in the Western District of Virginia and one in the District of Massachusetts, are reportedly handling the inquiry.

McKinsey has previously settled with various entities totaling over $1 billion in fifty states plus five territories. The list includes insurance companies, school districts, local governments, and Native American tribes.  McKinsey has not acknowledged fault.

OxyContin, a highly addictive painkiller, allegedly had its sales boosted by McKinsey consultants who advised Purdue to focus on doctors who prescribed the drug frequently and consistently rather than those who seldom prescribed it.

In 2018, the top McKinsey consultants were becoming more concerned that they could be held accountable for their role in assisting opioid producers in increasing sales.

Martin Elling, a leader in the firm’s pharmaceutical business, reportedly emailed Arnab Ghatak, a senior McKinsey partner, in the summer of 2018 to ask if they should trash the data pertaining to their opioid work. According to the investigation, Elling was a key player in the firm’s pharmaceutical business. In response, Ghatak thanked him for the warning and said he would do the same.

The two men were fired in 2020 after an investigative media outlet obtained and published the emails.