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Nevada secures $45 million settlement in opioid litigation, accusing consulting firm of deceptive marketing practices that led to overdose deaths

Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez
Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez
State Government
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Pills spilling from bottle

Nevada will receive $45 million from the settlement of a lawsuit against consulting firm McKinsey & Company, which provided services for opioid manufacturers, Attorney General Aaron Ford announced on Monday. 

Ford in 2019 filed a 241-page complaint against nationally prominent opioid manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies and individuals, including Purdue Pharma, Walgreens, Walmart and CVS Pharmacy. At the time, Ford said the defendants “created an unprecedented public health crisis for their own profits” by duping doctors into prescribing the highly addictive drug used primarily for pain management. 

During a press conference, Ford said McKinsey & Company's role in the opioid crisis included advising manufacturers on how to maximize their profits from the medication. He said that directly affects Nevada, which he described as hard-hit by the crisis.

Nevada will receive the settlement money in two installments, with $23 million arriving in 45 days and $22 million arriving in 120 days. 

“The devastation caused by the opioid epidemic is felt by every mother and father who has lost a child,” Ford said during the press conference. “It's felt by siblings who've lost a sister or a brother… And obviously it's felt by those still suffering from an opioid addiction.” 

McKinsey & Company holds that their work in consulting opioid manufacturers was not against the law.

"McKinsey believes its past work was lawful and has denied allegations to the contrary. The settlement agreement with Nevada, like those reached in February, contains no admission of wrongdoing or liability," said a company spokesperson in a statement.

Monday’s announcement came after Ford withdrew Nevada from a multi-state lawsuit that included 55 states and territories against opioid manufacturers. The attorney general said the multi-state settlement would have yielded $7 million for Nevada, but he pursued individual litigation because he said that “Nevadans were entitled to more.” 

Three months ago, the National Drug Helpline marked Nevada on “red alert” as opioid-related deaths rose amid the pandemic. Officials reported a 50 percent increase in opioid- and fentanyl-related overdose deaths in the first six months of 2020, which saw a greater increase in the months following the beginning of the pandemic. 

For now, the attorney general said his office will be working with the Legislature and Gov. Steve Sisolak to “figure out the best way to appropriate the funds." Ford said that will include using the funds to address the opioid crisis and recover the costs of pursuing the case, but didn't name specific expenditures related to that.

“This settlement comes at a time when Nevada needs an influx of funds to continue its work in this area, which is particularly important in light of the pandemic that has seen a resurgence in opioid-related deaths,” Ford said. 

Updated on 3/22/2021 at 1:48 p.m. to correct a prior statement saying there were 40 defendants listed on the attorney general's complaint, add a statement from McKinsey & Company and include information from Ford's office regarding the use of the funds from the settlement.

Updated on 3/22/2021 at 4:03 p.m. to update the headline of the article.

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