FILE PHOTO: Bottles of prescription painkiller OxyContin made by Purdue Pharma LP sit on a shelf at a local pharmacy in Provo, Utah, U.S. April 25, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey/File Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

A global consulting firm will pay $573 million for its role in pushing opioid sales and contributing to an overdose crisis that has led to the deaths of more than 450,000 people in the last two decades. 

McKinsey and Company reached an agreement with 47 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories for advising OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma LP and other drug manufacturers to aggressively market opioids. McKinsey and Company didn’t admit blame in the settlement, and it is rare for a firm to pay penalties for merely giving advice.

But records show that the firm advised Purdue to focus on high-dose pills even after the drugmaker pled guilty in 2007 that it had misled doctors and regulators about OxyContin’s risks. The firm also told Purdue to band together with other opioid makers to avoid “strict treatment” by the federal government.

“McKinsey & Company was a player in this unfolding opioids tragedy,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a statement. Becerra is President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

The states will use the money to address opioid addictions and overdoses. Colorado received $10 million of the settlement, said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, who praised McKinsey for the settlement after being one of the first to go after the firm and asking other states to join in the suit. Weiser also sued Purdue two years ago and the family behind it, who now may have to pay as much as $3 billion in settlements.

“I applaud McKinsey’s decision to step forward, accept responsibility, and work with us to address the opioid crisis,” Weiser said in a written statement. “They are the first company to work with the states to fix the problem rather than deny their conduct and engage in protracted litigation or delay.”

Kevin Sneader, the firm’s global managing partner, said the company “deeply regrets” that it didn’t acknowledge the consequences of the epidemic. “With this agreement,” Sneader said, “we hope to be part of the solution to the opioid crisis in the U.S.”

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

Fentanyl overdoses are surging in Colorado as the powerful opioid is disguised as other drugs – The Colorado Sun – 2/4/2021
For the past several years, law enforcement and public health officials have warned that fentanyl — a potent, synthetic opioid powder causing a spike in overdoses on the coasts — would soon arrive in Colorado. It’s clearly here, and the statistics for 2020 reveal a drastic jump in use of the drug considered 10 times more deadly than heroin. 

Melissa Etheridge Reveals She Felt ‘Helpless’ as Son Battled Addiction Before Fatal Opioid Overdose – People magazine – 2/3/2021
Melissa Etheridge is opening up about how difficult it is to watch a loved one struggle with substance abuse nearly nine months after her beloved son Beckett died of an opioid overdose. “It’s a nightmare so many families go through,” the rock star says in the new issue of People, “and it just eats away at good people.”

Break It Up: FTC Files Antitrust Action Against Big Pharma Companies – JD Supra – 2/3/2021
According to the Federal Trade Commission’s complaint, Endo developed and released Opana ER a decade ago, and it quickly became one of Endo’s top sellers.  Other drug companies, including Impax, soon attempted to release their own versions of the drug. For a while, there were at least three players in the market.  That competition, the FTC claims, drove down the price of oxymorphone.

Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel built an empire on cocaine, but it’s betting on another drug to feed US appetites – Business Insider – 2/4/2021
Although the cartel, known for its now-jailed kingpin, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, is still a huge distributor of cocaine in the US, the organization is betting on fentanyl to feed the demand for opioids north of the border while keeping the cartel on top in Mexico.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

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