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Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden readies massive shifts in policy for his first days in office.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.
  6. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Dave Lawler, author of World
3 hours ago - World

Alexey Navalny detained after landing back in Moscow

Navalny and his wife shortly before he was detained. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained upon his return to Moscow on Sunday, which came five months after he was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. He returned despite being warned that he would be arrested.

The latest: Navalny was stopped at a customs checkpoint and led away alone by officers. He appeared to hug his wife goodbye, and his spokesman reports that his lawyer was not allowed to accompany him.

Mike Allen, author of AM
5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden's "overwhelming force" doctrine

President-elect Biden arrives to introduce his science team in Wilmington yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President-elect Biden has ordered up a shock-and-awe campaign for his first days in office to signal, as dramatically as possible, the radical shift coming to America and global affairs, his advisers tell us. 

The plan, Part 1 ... Biden, as detailed in a "First Ten Days" memo from incoming chief of staff Ron Klain, plans to unleash executive orders, federal powers and speeches to shift to a stark, national plan for "100 million shots" in three months.