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NC To Get Nearly $19M In Opioid Settlement

Josh Stein opioid settlement.png
Josh Stein
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein talks about the money the state will get from a settlement related to the opioid crisis.

North Carolina is among dozens of states receiving money as part of a settlement related to the opioid crisis.

The consulting firm McKinsey will pay $573 million as part of an agreement with attorneys general in 47 states for the company’s role in advising opioid companies on how to promote their drugs.

State Attorney General Josh Stein says North Carolina’s share will be just under $19 million.

“The vast majority of that, approximately $15 million, will be paid in the next two months," Stein said Thursday. "The balance will be paid in three other installments over the next three years. And we’re going to work with leaders across the state to use those funds to deal with the consequences of this crisis.”

Stein says the settlement also requires McKinsey to release tens of thousands of internal documents connected to its work with opioid companies like Purdue Pharma.

“We deeply regret that we did not adequately acknowledge the tragic consequences of the epidemic unfolding in our communities,” McKinsey Global Managing Partner Kevin Sneader said in a statement Thursday, noting the company cooperated with investigations. ”With this agreement, we hope to be part of the solution to the opioid crisis in the U.S.”

McKinsey’s role in the opioid crisis came into focus in recent months in legal documents that were made public as part of OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma’s efforts to settle claims against it through bankruptcy court. They showed the company long worked with Purdue to boost sales even as the extent of the opioid epidemic became clear.

Some documents showed it was trying to “supercharge” flagging OxyContin sales in 2013. Its efforts over the years included encouraging Purdue sales representatives to focus on doctors who already prescribed high volumes of OxyContin and to try to move patients to more potent doses of the drug.

While McKinsey emerged as a target of opioid investigations recently, there have been thousands of lawsuits filed by government entities against companies that make and distribute prescription drugs. Some of those could go to trial this year.

Other settlements have happened or are in the works, including with Purdue, which is attempting to settle with state and local governments after reaching a deal last year to plead guilty to federal criminal charges and settle a civil case. Separately, members of the Sackler family who own the company agreed to pay $225 million in a civil settlement but admitted no wrongdoing.

Another settlement has long been in the works involving the largest U.S. drug distribution companies and Johnson & Johnson. On the call Thursday with Stein, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra called them collectively “the opioid machine.”

“It’s not the last deal and it’s not the biggest of the settlements and actions that we as a collective of states will take,” he said.

Attorney General Josh Stein Press Call

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