Sen. Hawley blasts McKinsey & Company for overdose bounties

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On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) blasted consulting firm McKinsey & Company for its proposal to provide pharmacies with bounties on opioid overdoses.

In a letter to McKinsey managing partner Kevin Sneader, Hawley said the company may have committed federal crimes as a co-conspirator of Purdue Pharma by suggesting the overdose bounty program as a way to ensure sales of Purdue’s opioid OxyContin continued, despite the growing opioid epidemic.

“McKinsey’s abhorrent conduct also demands that Congress consider broader action. McKinsey earns billions of dollars from contracts with the federal government. No firm that proposes paying kickbacks for overdose deaths should receive a single cent from U.S. taxpayers. In light of McKinsey’s possible active role in driving the opioid crisis, Congress must consider whether to impose obligations on consulting firms to report criminal activity or specific criminal penalties for consultants playing a role in federal crimes,” Hawley wrote.

The letter is in response to a New York Times article that alleges that now only did company representatives suggest paying pharmacies more than $14,000 for every opioid prescription that resulted in an overdose, or “event,” but that some company representatives discussed destroying evidence of its work with Purdue in “turbocharging” sales of OxyContin.

“If this reporting is accurate, McKinsey has engaged in startlingly unethical conduct. Such conduct would also appear to constitute federal crimes,” Hawley wrote. “From the recently filed settlement agreement between the Government and Purdue Pharma, there are serious questions about whether McKinsey is guilty of the federal crimes to which Purdue recently pled guilty, either as a co-conspirator or by aiding and abetting those crimes. Moreover, allegations that Mr. (Martin) Elling and Mr. (Arnab) Ghatak discussed destroying evidence relevant to pending government investigations raises the prospect that McKinsey may also have engaged in obstruction of justice.”

Hawley said the company had until Dec. 15 to provide Congress with information regarding its business operations, including whether or not personnel proposed paying bounties on overdose deaths and the development of opioid use disorder, whether or not personnel discussed destroying evidence, whether or not personnel did in fact destroy evidence related to its work with Purdue Pharma, and how much money the company has earned from its work with Purdue and other companies related to opioids, among other things.

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