Nevada announces $45M settlement with McKinsey over opioids

West

This illustration image shows tablets of opioid painkiller Oxycodon delivered on medical prescription taken on September 18, 2019 in Washington,DC. – Millions of Americans sank into addiction after using potent opioid painkillers that the companies churned out and doctors freely prescribed over the past two decades. Well over 400,000 people died of opioid overdoses in that period, while the companies involved raked in billions of dollars in profits. And while the flood of prescription opioids into the black market has now been curtailed, addicts are turning to heroin and highly potent fentanyl to compensate, where the risk of overdose and death is even higher. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada has struck a $45 million settlement deal with McKinsey & Company for the global consulting firm’s role in advising opioid makers how to sell more prescription painkillers amid a national overdose crisis.

The western state reached the deal after sitting out a multi-state settlement with McKinsey announced in February. The hard bargaining has allowed Nevada to win a settlement that’s three and a half times larger than the average settlement with other states.

“Nevada needed and deserved more than what was being made available to us in the multi-state settlement,” state Attorney General Aaron Ford said Monday. He said the state would have received $7 million had it stayed in the multi-state deal.

The $45 million will be paid in two installments of $23 million in 45 days and $22 million in 120 days.

McKinsey said the deal reached with Nevada is “consistent with the commitment we made in February to be part of the solution to the opioid epidemic,” and it “believes its past work was lawful.”

The New York-based company agreed to pay $573 million in February in a deal with 47 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. It also at the time announced separate settlements with Washington state for $13.5 million and West Virginia for $10 million.

“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 at the time.

Opioids, which include prescription drugs like OxyContin and illegal substances such as heroin and illicit fentanyl, have been tied to more than 470,000 deaths in the U.S. over the past two decades.

McKinsey’s role came into the spotlight in recent months when OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP sought to settle claims against it in bankruptcy court. Legal documents showed McKinsey worked with Purdue to boost sales even as the resulting opioid epidemic emerged.

The consulting firm tried to “supercharge” lagging sales of OxyContin in 2013, according to some documents and it encouraged the drugmaker’s sales representatives to focus on doctors prescribing high numbers of the drug and encourage them to prescribe patients more potent doses.

Nevada, with a population of more than 3 million, has been among the hardest-hit states by the crisis. By 2016, it had enough opioid prescriptions for 87 out of 100 residents while overdoses exceeded the national average, according to Ford’s office.

The state separately is pursing a wide-ranging lawsuit against Purdue along with the company’s former president, his family, other drugmakers, distributors and pharmacies.

The civil lawsuit accuses the defendants of violating state laws about deceptive trade practices, false claims, racketeering, negligence and public nuisance.

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