Behind the scenes, the McKinsey Guided Company is at the center of the opioid crisis

In 2017, less than two years later, citing the serious public health consequences of the FDA’s abuse, Endo took the rare step of demanding that Opana be removed from the market. The company complied.

In the five years since the advent of the Blood-Disease cluster in Tennessee, the painkiller has brought in more than 4 844 million in revenue, according to corporate filings.

In Indiana, law enforcement officers broke a drug trafficking ring in 2016. One person admitted that Opana was found in Detroit and sold it in bulk to a dealer. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

“The health care, the school, the welfare department, the whole thing is breaking down because of the drugs, the drugs that you helped make available,” the judge warned him.

“You’re certainly not responsible for that, but you did your part.”

In June 2017, Tom Latkovich rose to address a healthcare conference in Chicago sponsored by his employer, McKinsey.

“I start today by asking, ‘Why do we pay people who have an incredibly high tendency to abuse them to prescribe, distribute, pay for opioid prescriptions that we know or at least we know?'”

Mr. Latkovic, a senior partner, was not a member of McKinsey’s pharmaceutical practice. Instead, his team focused on using data analysis tools to address complex healthcare problems, and this led to an increasingly opioid epidemic.

Credit …CSPAN

Hoping to expand this work, Mr. Latkovich told the audience, “We are launching a new center focusing on opioids and insights.”

The client list for the new venture included state government, insurers and the health system. One of McKinsey’s more ambitious endeavors was Philadelphia, a city with the highest mortality rate in the country from opioid overdoses.

In 2019, the consultants spent nearly two months working with the city government, according to two who were local officials at the time. Both praised McKinsey’s work, which came to town free of charge but was later removed after the Covid-19.

Yet when Mr. Latkovic’s team tried to deal with the opioid epidemic, the firm was often blamed for spreading it, Purdue did not stop serving the company. And on at least two occasions, the documents show, drafts of publications prepared by Mr. Latkovich’s team were given to consultants for review by pharmaceutical clients. The purpose, a manager of pharmaceutical practice wrote, “was to assess whether it could create any wave from social media or journalists that could be harmful to our pharma clients.”

With negative news coverage and lawsuits mounted against Purdue, some advisers were internally upset that the investigation could extend as far as McKinsey.

In 2019, during the Philadelphia project, McKinsey decided to stop advising companies about opioids – after the firm’s 15-year relationship with Purdue became public as part of a lawsuit filed in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. Since Mr. Latkovic’s 2017 speech, McKinsey has collected $ 7.8 million in fees from Purdue, documents show.

The revelation that McKinsey advised Purdue led to controversy within the firm. “We may not have done anything wrong, but have we asked ourselves what were the negative consequences of what we were doing and how to reduce it?” Wrote a consultant.

Dr. Ghatak, the driving force behind McKinsey’s work for Purdue and Endor, finds himself in the spotlight. As he did for pharmaceutical executives, this time he made a point of speaking for himself.

“The opioid crisis is horrendous,” he wrote. “Acknowledge up front.” But by advising clients to develop products that would be more difficult to abuse, “We were working directly to address the public health crisis, not the Silver Bullet, but of course a solution.”

In 2020, documents published as part of a Purdue legal lawsuit indicate that Dr. Ghatak and another consultant, Martin Ealing, discussed destroying the records. McKinsey soon fired them.

The firm settled with the state attorney general in early 2021.

Some of McKinsey’s former clients have faced potential damages in court. Purdue filed for bankruptcy protection in 2019 and MalinCroud did the same the following year. Johnson & Johnson had previously sold its drug business to a private investment firm and settled several lawsuits related to the marketing of its opioids, which the company said in a statement was “appropriate and responsible.”

Endo has also ruled out the possibility of bankruptcy in the wake of a wave of lawsuits over its opioids, especially Opana marketing. The agency said in a regulatory filing that it received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia in 2020, which was convicted by Purdue executives years ago. This time, according to the endorsement, the office sought McKinsey’s information.

Top image of Mark Weaver.

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