Rhode Island to Receive $2.59 Million as Part of Multi-State Settlement with McKinsey & Co. for the Firm’s Role in “Turbocharging” the Opioid Epidemic


State’s lawsuit against major opioid manufacturers and distributors remains ongoing


PROVIDENCE, RI – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha has joined a coalition of attorneys general from 47 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories in a $573 million settlement with one of the world’s largest consulting firms, McKinsey & Company, resolving investigations into the company’s role in working for opioid companies, helping those companies promote their drugs, and profiting from the opioid epidemic. 


Rhode Island will receive $2.59 million from the multistate settlement, which will be used solely to address the impact of the opioid epidemic on Rhode Islanders through treatment, rescue, recovery, and prevention programs. This is the first multi-state opioid settlement to result in substantial payment to the states to address the epidemic. Proceeds for each state were determined by a formula based mainly on population. 


“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 Attorney General 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.”


In addition to providing funds to address the crisis, the agreement calls for McKinsey to prepare tens of thousands of its internal documents detailing its work for Purdue Pharma and other opioid companies for public disclosure online. In addition, 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. 


When states began to sue Purdue’s directors for their implementation of McKinsey’s marketing schemes, McKinsey partners began emailing about deleting documents and emails related to their work for Purdue.


The opioid epidemic has led to considerable harm to individuals and communities in Rhode Island over the last 20 years. Since 2014, nearly 2,170 Rhode Islanders have died from an opioid overdose. On an economic level, these deaths—and the impacts on Rhode Islanders who have struggled opioid addiction—have created considerable costs to the state in the form of health care, child welfare, criminal justice, and other programs, as well as lost economic opportunity and productivity. On a social level, opioid addiction, abuse, and overdose deaths have torn families apart, damaged relationships, and eroded the social fabric of communities.  


Today’s filing is the latest action our Office has taken to combat the opioid epidemic. In 2018, our Office filed a lawsuit (State of Rhode Island v. Purdue Pharma) against a group of major opioid distributors and manufacturers seeking to hold them accountable for their role in creating and fueling the ongoing opioid crisis in Rhode Island. That litigation is ongoing and currently in the discovery phase. 


The states’ investigation was led by an executive committee made up of the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont. The executive committee is joined by the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the District of Columbia, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


An at-a-glance overview of the settlement is provided here (and attached).


View the complaint here.

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