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McKinsey Faces Criminal Probe Over Alleged Role in Opioid Epidemic 


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McKinsey & Co under criminal investigation in the United States amid allegations of its involvement in exacerbating the opioid epidemic. 

Image Source: Reuters
McKinsey & Co under criminal investigation in the United States amid allegations of its involvement in exacerbating the opioid epidemic. 
Image Source: Reuters 

McKinsey & Company is facing a criminal investigation initiated by the U.S. Justice Department, focusing on allegations suggesting the consultancy played a pivotal role in worsening the opioid crisis. The inquiry centers on McKinsey’s interactions with Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, as well as other pharmaceutical companies.  

The primary focus of the investigation is to determine whether McKinsey’s consulting advice contributed to the surge in sales of prescription painkillers, ultimately resulting in widespread addiction and fatal overdoses. 

The Justice Department’s scrutiny extends to potential healthcare fraud associated with McKinsey’s consulting work for opioid-selling companies, including allegations of fraudulent claims submitted to government programs like Medicare. Moreover, the investigation delves into McKinsey’s disclosure that it terminated two partners involved in discussions about deleting documents related to their work on opioids, raising concerns about potential obstruction of justice. 

Initiated several years before the global pandemic, this investigation involves officials from the Justice Department spanning various offices across the country. While discussions are ongoing to potentially resolve the probe, the potential outcomes range from criminal charges against the company or its executives to civil sanctions or even closure without any further action. 

The significance of this investigation lies in the potential for criminal charges against McKinsey or its executives, as well as the substantial financial penalties typically demanded by the Justice Department in such cases. Notably, McKinsey had previously settled opioid-related lawsuits totaling nearly USD 1 billion with various entities, without admitting any liability or wrongdoing. 

Purdue Pharma, the subject of McKinsey’s consulting efforts, has not immediately responded to requests for comment. However, Purdue had previously pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to its opioid painkillers and filed for bankruptcy. It subsequently negotiated a settlement to resolve thousands of lawsuits. 

As prosecutors continue their investigation into McKinsey, charging decisions remain pending as they sift through extensive documentation and engage in discussions with the consulting firm’s legal representatives. 

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