McKinsey faces class action lawsuit for alleged role in opioid crisis in Canada

19 October 2021 2 min. read

Sotos Class Actions and Goldblatt Partners have launched a class action lawsuit against consulting firm McKinsey & Company for its role in fueling the opioid epidemic in Canada.

McKinsey in February agreed to pay US$573 million to settle an investigation from 47 state attorneys general into its role in helping opioid companies boost sales. The firm’s work included a marketing plan for Purdue Pharma to help “turbocharge” OxyContin sales.

Purdue Pharma last month was dissolved in a US bankruptcy court settlement that will require the company’s owners, the Sackler family, to pay US$4.5 billion to address the opioid epidemic. The deal will shield the Sacklers against all civil opioid claims.

The opioid epidemic has left more than 400,000 Americans dead. Meanwhile, in Canada, there were 21,174 apparent opioid-related deaths and 24,671 opioid overdose hospitalizations between January 2016 and December 2020.

McKinsey faces class action lawsuit for alleged role in opioid crisis in Canada

McKinsey – a leading strategy advisor to the world’s largest companies – has yet to be held accountable for its role in the opioid epidemic in Canada, according to the law firms handling the class action lawsuit.

The class action names McKinsey’s US and Canadian arms as defendants. The representative of the class is Jordan Francis Charlie of Northern Ontario, who was prescribed OxyContin in 2007 due to a back injury and subsequently developed an opioid addiction, lost his job, and lost custody of his child.

The class action is seeking damages for the alleged negligence of McKinsey, breaches of consumer protection statutes, conspiracy, healthcare costs, and unjust enrichment. The proposed class consists of all persons resident in Canada who were prescribed and developed an addiction to opioids 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. Even after the staggering toll of opioids was made clear, McKinsey counseled Purdue on how to ‘turbo-charge’ the sale of opioids,” said plaintiff counsel Louis Sokolov.

The case alleges that, as a consultant to opioid manufacturers, McKinsey identified doctors susceptible to over-prescribing, crafted messages to misinform doctors, and convinced manufacturers to look the other way when opioids were diverted to the black market.

In an earlier US$8.3-billion settlement with the US Justice Department in October 2020, Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to paying illegal kickbacks to doctors, among a raft of offenses.