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February 4, 2021

Iowa to receive $4.7 million to address opioid crisis

Miller, other AGs reach settlement with McKinsey

DES MOINES — Iowa will receive $4,677,279 over five years as part of a settlement with one of the world’s largest consulting firms, McKinsey & Co., over its role in fueling the opioid epidemic.

Attorney General Tom Miller joined the coalition of attorneys general from 47 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories in the $573 million settlement, which resolves investigations into the company’s role in helping opioid companies promote their drugs.

The settlement, after payment of costs, will be used to abate problems caused by opioids, including paying for substance abuse treatment services for Iowans. This is the first multi-state opioid settlement to result in substantial payment to the states to address the epidemic.

“McKinsey played a critical role in developing and amplifying dangerous messages about opioid use that Purdue Pharma and others perpetuated for years,” Miller said. “This settlement agreement will allow us to help Iowans who suffer from the impact of the opioid crisis by supporting and expanding needed substance abuse treatment services.”

In addition to providing funds to address the crisis, McKinsey must prepare tens of thousands of its internal documents detailing its work for Purdue Pharma and other opioid companies for public disclosure online.

“This database sets a new precedent of accountability and transparency to the public,” Miller said.

In addition, McKinsey agreed to adopt a strict document retention plan, continue its investigation into allegations that two of its partners tried to destroy documents in response to investigations of Purdue Pharma, implement a strict ethics code that all partners must agree to each year, and stop advising companies on potentially dangerous Schedule II and III narcotics. 

Iowa's lawsuit describes how McKinsey contributed to the opioid crisis by promoting marketing schemes and consulting services to opioid manufacturers, including OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, for over a decade. The complaint, filed with the settlement, details how McKinsey advised Purdue on how to maximize profits from its opioid products, including targeting high-volume opioid prescribers, using specific messaging to get physicians to prescribe more OxyContin to more patients, and circumventing pharmacy restrictions to deliver high-dose prescriptions.

When states began to sue Purdue’s directors for their implementation of McKinsey’s marketing schemes, McKinsey partners began emailing about deleting documents and emails related to their work for Purdue.

In 2019, Miller’s office sued Purdue and its former president and board chairman, Richard Sackler, alleging that the drug company engaged in unfair, deceptive and unlawful practices in the marketing of OxyContin.

The opioid epidemic continues to take a toll on Iowa. Preliminary data from mid-2020 show more than a 30% increase in opioid overdose deaths over 2019, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

In addition to deaths, Iowa has seen a substantial increase in both emergency and long-term care for people with opioid overdose and opioid use disorder over the last 20 years.

“Every community in Iowa suffers from the opioid crisis of addiction and death,” Iowa’s lawsuit against McKinsey charges.

Iowa is joined by Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the District of Columbia, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

HOW TO GET HELP

If you or someone you care about is misusing opioids, visit YourLifeIowa.org https://yourlifeiowa.org/  for information, resources or live chat. Or call 855-581-8111 or text 855-895-8398 any time, any day.

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