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Arkansas will receive $5.4 million from the multi-state settlement between attorneys general from 47 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories and McKinsey & Co. one of the world’s biggest consulting firms.
Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced the deal on Thursday. In all, McKinsey & Co. is paying $573 million to resolve investigations into its role in the opioid crisis.
“The opioid epidemic has torn Arkansas families apart and eroded communities. We will never forget the damage that has been done,” Rutledge said in a news release. “This settlement will not get loved ones back but it is a step in the right direction to remedy the wrong these opioid companies have caused.”
It’s the first multi-state opioid settlement to result in “substantial payments” to states, the attorney general’s office said.
Most of the money in the national settlement, first reported by The New York Times, would be sent to the states in less than a year, and would be used to abate the national overdose crisis. Prescription opioids and illegal ones such as heroin and illicit fentanyl combined have been linked to the deaths of more than 470,000 Americans since 2000. And the epidemic has deepened amid the coronavirus pandemic.
State and local governments have been filing lawsuits over the past few years against companies that make and sell prescription opioids for their role in the crisis. But going after a consulting firm is a new wrinkle in the litigation.
McKinsey provided documents used in legal proceedings regarding OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, including some that describe its efforts to help the company try to “supercharge” opioid sales in 2013, as reaction to the overdose crisis was taking a toll on prescribing.
Purdue is in bankruptcy court to try to settle lawsuits against it. The company has proposed a settlement that could be worth $10 billion over time. The company last year also pleaded guilty to criminal charges in part of a settlement with the federal government. Both Purdue and members of the Sackler family who own the firm agreed to pay $225 million to the U.S. government as part of the deal.
A group of the largest drug distribution companies plus drugmaker Johnson & Johnson have also been working on a national settlement.
(Arkansas Business contributed to this report. All contents © copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved.)