Lawmakers Say McKinsey Ignored Bigger Context Of Opioid Crisis

Various media reports cover the first appearance of consulting firm McKinsey’s top executive before Congress as part of an investigation into the company’s role in the opioid crisis. Harsh criticisms were leveled at McKinsey, including allegations it failed to recognize the context of its “schemes.”

The New York Times: Lawmakers Dismiss McKinsey’s Apology On Opioid Crisis As ‘Empty’

The top executive at McKinsey & Company, appearing on Wednesday for the first time before Congress to answer for the consulting firm’s role in fanning the opioid crisis, came under sharp criticism from Democratic lawmakers. One likened the firm’s earnings from advising Purdue Pharma and other pharmaceutical companies to “blood money” from drug traffickers. Bob Sternfels, McKinsey’s managing partner, remotely testing to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, apologized for McKinsey’s work in helping drive sales at opioid makers. He said the firm “failed to recognize the broader context of what was going on in society around us.” (Forsythe, Bogdanich and Hamby, 4/27)

AP: Lawmakers Scrutinize McKinsey’s Opioid, FDA Consulting Work

House Democrats vowed to continue investigating consulting giant McKinsey’s work with opioid drugmakers after a Wednesday hearing detailed how the firm had advised companies pushing painkillers as well as US health regulators. The hearing before a House committee is part of an ongoing probe into McKinsey’s role in the US opioid crisis that has been linked to over 500,000 overdose deaths from both prescription pain medications and illicit drugs like fentanyl. (Perrone, 4/27)

The Boston Globe: Healey Blasts McKinsey’s Opioid ‘Schemes’ In House Hearing

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey brought her campaign against the McKinsey consulting firm’s opioid dealings to Washington on Wednesday, blasting the company’s “schemes” to get more Americans hooked on the deadly painkillers in front of the House Oversight Committee. Healey, a Democrat who is running for governor of Massachusetts, won a $13 million settlement for the state from McKinsey in 2021, after lawsuits revealed the firm meticulously designed strategies to help Purdue Pharma “turbocharge” the sale of OxyContin — even as overdoses skyrocketed. (Baskar, 4/27)

In other news about the drug crisis —

ABC News: Still Rocked By Opioid Crisis, West Virginia Now Dealing With Rise In Fentanyl Overdoses

West Virginia had the highest opioid overdose death rate per capita in the country last year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. OxyContin, a drug that helped fuel the crisis, was heavily marketed in towns across the state and its use prescription spread among residents of all ages, experts said. … While first responders and doctors in the state scramble to save people from these decades of danger, they also are fighting a new phase of the crisis as fentanyl overdoses have jumped in the area. (Ordonez, Luna, Salzman and Pereira, 4/26)

AP: Collection Sites Set For West Virginia Drug Take Back Event

The public can drop off unused, expired or unwanted prescription drugs at dozens of collection sites across West Virginia this weekend. Law enforcement officials are participating in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Drug Take Back Day from 10 am to 2 pm Saturday. The collection sites include community police, sheriff and state police offices, fire departments, and pharmacies and grocery stores. Specific sites can be found on the US Department of Justice website. (4/28)

Salt Lake Tribune: Citing ‘Carnage’ Of Opioid Addiction, Salt Lake County Unveils Partial Settlement In Its Yearslong Lawsuit Against Drugmakers

Salt Lake County will receive about $57 million over the next 16 years as part of a $266 million payout to Utah, after four defendants in a yearslong opioid lawsuit decided to settle with governments nationwide. Under the partial settlement, 85% of the total must go to education and other programs that address the effects of opioid addiction, something Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said had plagued the country. The settlement stems from a 2018 lawsuit the county filed against 19 drugmakers and distributors. Only four of the defendants — manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, and distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen — agreed to settle. “Today’s settlement,” Gil said, “is a partial down payment on that carnage that they’ve left behind.” (Apgar, 4/26)

The Wall Street Journal: Fentanyl Kills So Fast That Aid Groups Are Rethinking How To Fight Overdoses

As the Biden administration calls for overdose antidotes to be distributed closer to where illicit drugs are consumed, groups working with users say affordable versions of the drugs remain in chronic shortage. Harm-reduction organizations that give clean needles and medical care to drug users say they need cheap reversal treatments in greater quantities and closer to where drugs are taken as the synthetic opioid fentanyl permeates the US drug supply and overdose deaths reach new records. (Wernau, 4/27)

Cincinnati Enquirer: Get Narcan, Meet Harm Reduction Workers At Drug Take Back Day

If you drop off prescription pills in Mount Washington this weekend, you might see a few unfamiliar guests. They help people who are at risk for drug overdose, and they hope you’ll chat with them about their work. They also might offer you “a Narcan kit to add to your first-aidkit,” says Megan Gosney, social programs administrator for the Hamilton County Addiction Response Coalition. Hamilton County Public Health’s harm reduction team, equipped with Narcan and fentanyl test strips, and a representative of its Quick Response Team, which guides overdose survivors to treatment, will join the neighborhood’s National Drug Take Back Day. (DeMio, 4/27)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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