Nov 28, 2020 - Health

McKinsey advised Purdue to offer rebates for opioid overdoses

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Consulting firm McKinsey & Company advised Purdue Pharma, producer of the addictive painkiller OxyContin, to give drug distributors a rebate for every OxyContin overdose attributable to pills they sold, according to bankruptcy filings obtained and reviewed by the New York Times.

Why it matters: It was one of several options McKinsey gave the Sackler family, Purdue’s owners, to drive sales of the drug, at a time when opioid abuse had already killed thousands of people in the U.S.

Details: A 2017 presentation from McKinsey projected how many customers of distributors, including CVS and Anthem, might overdose or develop a use disorder.

  • The consulting company projected that in 2019 2,484 CVS customers would either overdose or develop an opioid addiction and that Purdue would pay CVS a $36.8 million rebate that year.
  • Rebates and other strategies were McKinsey's attempts to help Purdue find a way “to counter the emotional messages from mothers with teenagers that overdosed” on OxyContin.

CVS and Anthem told NYT they never received such rebates.

  • In 2018, McKinsey began to worry about legal backlash from taking on Purdue as a client, and senior members of the firm asked whether the company should prepare for lawsuits by “eliminating all our documents and emails.”
  • "It is not known whether consultants at the firm went on to destroy any records," according to NYT.

The big picture: Purdue pleaded guilty on Tuesday to three criminal charges, including impeding the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s efforts to combat the addiction crisis and and paying illegal kickbacks to doctors.

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