COLUMBUS — State Rep. Brian Stewart introduced legislation this week calling on Congress to investigate the firm McKinsey and Co. in connection with the opioid crisis.

In a press release, Stewart said McKinsey admitted in court documents and class action settlements to devising strategies for its pharmaceutical clients to, in its own words, “turbocharge” sales of OxyContin pills into Ohio and therefore boost corporate profits.

“McKinsey has profited off the pain and suffering of Ohioans, leaving death and the destruction of families behind. Worse yet, it did so knowingly, all while consulting with the Food and Drug Administration on the approval of opioid drugs” Stewart said.

“I applaud Attorney General Dave Yost for successfully working to recover monetary damages for local communities and organizations on the front lines of fighting opioids, but money alone is not enough; the opioid crisis remains, and companies like McKinsey and Company need to know there are consequences for their actions.”

Stewart said the recent nearly $600 million settlement is noteworthy because this is the first time where you have a company that’s not a manufacturer or distributor being held liable for the damage caused by the opioid crisis.

“It’s not just the drug makers, but we have one of the largest consulting firms that is in its own words, is advising companies to turbocharge the distribution of opioids in the state,” he said.

Stewart said the resolution, which is a formal ask of the Federal Government by the State of Ohio to look into the matter, aims to help root out any conflicts of interest.

“This company still has massive federal contracts and is still potentially enmeshed in a variety of conflicts of interest at the federal level,” he said. “I applaud Attorney General Dave Yost. He’s got $600 million and that’s not the end of the inquiry. Ohio has a role to investigate these problematic relationships that exist.

As a lawyer, I can’t represent both sides in the same case. To have a company that’s advising the FDA to regulate opioids while representing companies that are going to be regulated by the FDA is concerning. We need to make sure a company that’s literally been connected with 96 percent of opioids in Ohio isn’t allowed to continue these same concerning practices.”

McKinsey and Co. agreed to a settlement that gave Ohio communities more than $24 million as part of a larger nationwide $573 million settlement.

Under the settlement terms, Ohio will receive $20 million this year and $4.7 million spread over the next four years to help remediate the harm caused by the opioid epidemic.

“Twenty-four and a half million dollars won’t cure the opioid crisis, but it can be a start toward bringing treatment and services to people in need,” Yost said.

“With consultation from Gov. DeWine, the plan is to lead by example and put the lion’s share of this money into the OneOhio Recovery Foundation so it can be put to work across Ohio.”

The filings describe how McKinsey contributed to the opioid crisis by promoting marketing schemes and consulting services to opioid manufacturers, including OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, for more than 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,

“While no amount of money will ever be enough to make up for the devastation caused by putting profits ahead of people’s lives, the settlement announced today is another step toward loosening the grip that addiction has on our state and helping Ohioans recover,” Gov. DeWine said during the settlement announcement in February.

The Circleville Herald contact McKinsley and Company but did not receive a response for comment ahead of press time.

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