McKinsey & Company – one of the oldest and largest management consultancies in the world – is on the receiving end of a class-action lawsuit, which alleges that the firm played a key role in exacerbating the opioid misuse issue in both the US and Canada.
The class action was launched by Sotos Class Actions and Goldblatt Partners. Jordan Francis Charlie of Northern Ontario is the representative of the class, who was prescribed OxyContin in 2007 for a back injury, which he says eventually led to an opioid addiction that cost him his job and the custody of his child.
McKinsey has been accused of helping opioid companies like the now-insolvent Purdue Pharma to boost sales of the drugs. Specifically, the plaintiffs have pointed to the consultancy’s alleged involvement in crafting a highly aggressive marketing plan for Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin. McKinsey purportedly identified doctors susceptible to over-prescribing, created campaign messages designed to misinform doctors about opioids, and asked manufacturers to turn a blind eye when the drugs began to appear on the black market.
The lawsuit, which names McKinsey’s US and Canadian operations as defendants, seeks damages for the firm’s alleged negligence, breaches of consumer protection statutes, conspiracy, healthcare costs, and unjust enrichment. The proposed class is compromised of Canadians who were prescribed and later developed an opioid addiction between 2002 and the date the class action is certified.
"The ripple effects from opioid addictions, overdoses, and hospitalizations will be felt throughout Canadian society for decades,” said plaintiff counsel Louis Sokolov. “Even after the staggering toll of opioids was made clear, McKinsey counseled Purdue on how to ‘turbo-charge’ the sale of opioids.”
Consulting.ca reported that in Canada, there were 21,174 apparent opioid-related deaths and 24,671 opioid overdose hospitalizations between January 2016 and December 2020. Meanwhile, in America, the drug’s misuse has led to over 400,000 deaths.