Attorney General Ford Settles with Consultancy Firm McKinsey & Co. Over Company’s Role in Nevada’s Opioids Epidemic

March 22, 2021

Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford announced a settlement with one of the world’s largest consulting firms, McKinsey & Company, Inc. United States (McKinsey), to resolve investigations into the company’s role in Nevada’s opioid epidemic. As a result of this settlement, Nevada will receive $45 million.

The State's filings in Court describe how McKinsey advised opioid manufacturers, including OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, for over a decade. The complaint, filed with the settlement, alleges that McKinsey advised Purdue, and other opioid manufacturers, on how to maximize profits from its opioid products, including targeting high-volume prescribers and using specific messaging to get physicians to prescribe more opioids to more patients.  

“The devastation caused by the opioid epidemic affects us all,” said AG Ford. “It’s felt by every mother and father who has lost a child. It’s felt by siblings who have lost a sister or brother. And it’s felt by friends and colleagues who lost one of their own. My Bureau of Consumer Protection has fought on behalf of each of you, and we’re proud of the results of today’s settlement.”

“Nevada is a hardest hit state by the opioid crisis and is owed a great deal of compensation and justice,” continued AG Ford. "I applaud McKinsey's decision to step forward to address the opioid crisis and the particular devastation it caused here in Nevada.  McKinsey was the first company to work with our sister states to fix the problem, rather than engage in protracted litigation or delay, and I am pleased that McKinsey was willing to do the same with Nevada. McKinsey's willingness to settle with Nevada, along with sister states, will help focus our energy on addressing the problem."

AG Ford declined to join the multistate settlement with McKinsey, instead pursuing separate talks with the consultancy firm for several reasons, the most important of which are Nevada’s unique position in the way it was severely impacted by the opioid epidemic, the unique legal rights granted to the Nevada Attorney General, and the status of the pending litigation against opioid manufacturers, distributors, pharmacists and individuals. 

Nevada has been uniquely impacted by the opioid crisis because it has been, and continues to be, one of the hardest hit states by the opioid epidemic. The opioid crisis has resulted in thousands of deaths of Nevadans and has imposed an enormous burden on state resources needed to help thousands of addicted Nevadans. This settlement comes at a time that Nevada needs an influx in funds to continue its work addressing the opioids epidemic, which is particularly important in light of the pandemic that has seen a resurgence in opioid-related deaths in Nevada.  

For over a decade, McKinsey provided guidance, consulting, and marketing plans to entities involved in manufacturing, marketing, and selling opioids. McKinsey worked closely with its clients to assist them with strategy and implementation of their goals. It provided marketing plans to manufacturers who, in turn, targeted prescribers writing the most prescriptions, for the most patients, and all for profit. Purdue, for example, used the information to increase OxyContin sales through physician targeting and specific messaging to prescribers. McKinsey’s strategies formed the pillars of Purdue’s sales tactics for at least 15 years. Purdue approved McKinsey’s plan and strategies, and together with McKinsey, moved to implement the plan, which significantly increased Purdue’s opioid sales, in particular, for OxyContin.

But McKinsey’s consultation and marketing plans developed for opioid manufacturers extended beyond Purdue. Its marketing plans were used by the country’s largest opioid manufacturers, including Endo, Johnson & Johnson, and Mallinckrodt, to increase the sale and use of opioids in Nevada.

Opioids have killed thousands in Nevada, and they continue to ravage the lives of many more, creating one of the largest public-health epidemics in the country’s history. Economically, the toll is equally grim. The opioid crisis has forced Nevada to incur dramatically increased costs of health and human services, including healthcare, child welfare, criminal justice, and many other programs needed to remediate the harms, impact, and risks caused by the opioid epidemic to Nevada and to its residents.

The consent judgment resolves claims that McKinsey violated the Nevada Deceptive Trade Practices Act when it consulted with, and developed marketing plans for, opioid manufacturers to increase opioid sales in Nevada. The settlement funds will be used to address harms and costs associated with the opioid epidemic.