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Oklahoma to get $8.9 million in settlement with consulting firm to fight opioid crisis

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma will get $8.9 million to fight the opioid epidemic from a settlement with the global consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

The firm agreed to pay nearly $600 million overall in settlements involving 49 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories.

Attorney General Mike Hunter announced Oklahoma's settlement in a news release Thursday.

“As we showed at our 2019 trial against Johnson & Johnson, McKinsey came up with the playbook on how to strategically market these powerfully addictive drugs, leading to a drastic increase in the number of opioids prescribed and contributing to the epidemic,” Hunter said.

“I am thankful to the leadership at McKinsey for working with us to reach this settlement and bringing more money into the state to abate the crisis. We know money will not erase the anguish felt by those who lost a loved one to the opioid epidemic. However, it will help us moving forward by funding treatment and prevention programs.

"Our trust now lies with the wisdom of our state lawmakers to appropriate this money to efforts to help end the opioid crisis. My team and I stand by ready to assist if needed.”

In its own news release about the settlements, the New York City-based firm maintains its past work was lawful.

“We chose to resolve this matter in order to provide fast, meaningful support to communities across the United States," its global managing partner, Kevin Sneader, said. "We deeply regret that we did not adequately acknowledge the tragic consequences of the epidemic unfolding in our communities.

"With this agreement, we hope to be part of the solution to the opioid crisis in the U.S.”

McKinsey & Co. in 2019 stopped "any and all opioid-related work," according to the firm's release.

Bryan County District Judge Mark Campbell approved the $8,911,404 settlement with Oklahoma on Thursday after a lawsuit was filed.

The company agreed to pay $7,386,310 of that settlement within 60 days. It will then make payments of $381,273.50 every year for four years.

Hunter alleged in the lawsuit the firm violated state consumer protection laws.

"Prescription opioids continue to kill hundreds of people across Oklahoma every year," the AG said in the case. "McKinsey worked with entities involved in manufacturing and selling opioids and thereby contributed to the opioid crisis."

Also suing the firm in Oklahoma are the Kay County Board of Commissioners, the City of Shawnee and the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

In the Johnson & Johnson case, Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman in 2019 ordered the pharmaceutical giant to pay $465 million to the state to combat the crisis. Appeals of his decision are pending before the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Nolan Clay

Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,... Read more ›