McKinsey faces US criminal investigation over its work in the opioid industry

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McKinsey is under criminal investigation in the United States for its work on behalf of opioid makers, putting new pressure on a company that paid nearly $1 billion to settle civil lawsuits it says whose advice fueled an epidemic of drug addiction.

Federal prosecutors are also looking into whether the company obstructed justice through its actions as concerns about the work grew, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

McKinsey has faced repeated allegations that its work for Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, and other drugmakers contributed to the U.S. opioid crisis by advising companies on how to increase their sales.

The firm previously insisted its advice was legal but said it had revamped how it decided which clients to take on and had not done opioid-related work since 2019.

The company also fired two associates who discussed deleting documents related to their opioid work in emails that became public in 2020.

The U.S. Department of Justice has been investigating McKinsey’s work for several years, according to the source, and a grand jury has now been impaneled in Virginia to hear the evidence. The grand jury will ultimately decide whether criminal charges should be filed.

Another McKinsey client, now-bankrupt Endo International, said in a regulatory filing last month that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia, part of the Justice Department, had subpoenaed two repetitions of “documents related to McKinsey & Company”. in 2020 and 2021.

The Wall Street Journal first reported Wednesday on the criminal investigation and the existence of the grand jury. McKinsey and the DoJ declined to comment.

McKinsey has paid nearly $1 billion in settlements since 2021 with plaintiffs, including U.S. states and local governments, seeking compensation for the costs of dealing with an addiction epidemic.

The opioid crisis has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans, with overdoses being the leading cause of death among adults ages 18 to 45. In 2023, more than 112,000 Americans died from overdoses, a record, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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