The consulting firm McKinsey and Co. will pay Nevada $45 million in a settlement for its role in promoting prescription opioids that caused thousands of overdoses, the state announced Monday.
“McKinsey’s willingness to settle with Nevada, along with sister states, will help focus our energy on addressing the problem,” Democratic Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said in a press release. McKinsey settled in February for $573 million with 47 states and Washington DC over its role in the opioid crisis.
Nevada opted out of the multistate settlement with McKinsey & Company last month.
Today, the @NevadaAG Office announced that we’ve settled separately with McKinsey for $45 million.
As a candidate, I promised that I’d always look out for Nevada’s families first. I meant it. https://t.co/WEHJCwX2gX
— Aaron D. Ford (@AaronDFordNV) March 22, 2021
Nevada was hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic. Heroin and fentanyl deaths tripled in the state from 2010 to 2018. Overdoses in Nevada continue to exceed the national average, while 87 opioid prescriptions were filled for every 100 residents in 2016, the Associated Press reported. Nevada will receive roughly 3.5 times more money than the states that settled with McKinsey as a group.
McKinsey advised Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the maker of OxyContin, on “turbocharging” opioid sales, even as the drug manufacturer knew that patients were becoming addicted to OxyContin and other opioids. McKinsey recommended that Purdue Pharmaceuticals offer rebates to doctors every time a painkiller patient overdosed, court records revealed in 2017. Purdue Pharmaceuticals declared bankruptcy in 2019. (RELATED: How America’s Most Elite Consulting Firm Coached Purdue Pharma To Sell More Opioids)
“Consistent with the commitment we made in February to be part of the solution to the opioid epidemic, today we reached a settlement with the State of Nevada related to the firm’s past advisory work for opioid manufacturers,” McKinsey said in a statement. “McKinsey believes its past work was lawful and has denied allegations to the contrary. The settlement agreement with Nevada, like those reached in February, contains no admission of wrongdoing or liability.”
Purdue pled guilty in November 2020 to conspiracy to defraud the federal government and violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. It will pay at least $8.3 billion in fines and restitution.
More than 81,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2020, the most in one year in United States history. Some doctors partially attribute those totals to the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The total number of American deaths from prescription opioid use rose from more than 3,400 in 1999 to more than 17,000 in 2017, according to the National Institutes of Health.