Consulting firm McKinsey will face opioid litigation in Canada after settling in the U.S.
After facing litigation for its alleged connection with the opioid crisis in the U.S., McKinsey & Co. is back in the limelight – this time in Canada. Sotos Class Actions and Goldblatt Partners LLP have jointly filed a class action lawsuit against consulting firm (that has clients worldwide), once again accusing it of helping to fuel opioid epidemic. Defendants named in the suit include both McKinsey’s Canadian and its U.S. divisions.
Named plaintiff and representative for the class, Jordan Francis Charlie, is a resident of Northern Ontario. Charlie was first prescribed OxyContin in 2007 for pain associated with a back injury. He developed an addition to opioids thereafter, which affected many areas of his life, including losing his job in forestry and the custody of his child.
In February 2021, McKinsey & Co. reached a nearly $600 million-dollar settlement in the U.S. after battling multiple U.S. states. The plaintiffs with whom the company settled alleged the consulting firm played a major role in promoting the sale of OxyContin while working for Purdue Pharma L.P. Purdue has since filed for bankruptcy protection itself and is set to be transformed to a public benefit trust that will manufacture anti-addiction treatments.
Prior to the settlement with U.S. plaintiffs earlier this year, McKinsey’s role in the epidemic became apparent as legal documents surfaced during discovery supporting that the firm had worked closely with the Purdue for years to help boost OxyContin profits. In 2013, consultants suggested ways that Purdue could “turbocharge sales of its OxyContin,” according to the 2019 complaint filed by the Massachusetts attorney general.
“McKinsey’s efforts worked. The number of pills prescribed, Purdue’s profits and McKinsey’s fees all skyrocketed,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, whose state received nearly $19 million as part of the deal. “But so did the number of overdoses.”
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said following the settlement, “Even though no amount of money can bring back the lives lost, I hope our settlement provides funding for programs to help those battling opioid addiction.”
Under the multi-state deal, McKinsey & Co. also agreed to make public all its communications with Purdue over the years, in addition to its work with drug companies Endo Pharmaceuticals, Mallinckrodt, and Johnson & Johnson. Some of these documents may resurface in the current legal case.
According to the Canadian government, “prescription use of opioids increased by 203% between 2000 and 2010.” OxyContin was one of the most commonly prescribed opioids. Public data also indicates “from January 2016 to December 2020, there were 21,174 apparent opioid-related deaths across Canada and 24,671 hospitalizations for opioid-related overdoses.”This is the first time McKinsey has ever faced legal trouble in Canada for its alleged role in the opioid epidemic.
A former McKinsey consultant, who wished to remain unnamed, stated, “McKinsey’s work driving revenues for opioid producers was the banality of evil, MBA edition. They knew what was going on. And they found a way to look past it, through it, around it, so as to answer the only questions they cared about: how to make the client money, and when the walls closed in, how to protect themselves.”
The class action lawsuit seeks damages for “negligence, breaches of consumer protections statutes, conspiracy, health care costs and unjust enrichment.”