New York state Attorney General Letitia James is riding a winning streak.
In her latest triumph, New York will receive more than $32 million of an epic $573 million multi-state settlement with McKinsey & Company for the consulting giant’s role in the national opioid epidemic.
McKinsey, who worked with the makers of OxyContin and other addictive painkillers, reached a deal to pay recovery damages for its contributions to the opioid crisis.
The firm was found guilty of promoting marketing schemes and other services to opioid manufacturers, including OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma, for more than a decade, according to the settlement. McKinsey must pay the state 80% of the $32 million, or about $25.6 million, within 60 days, and the balance over the next five years.
The settlement is the first substantial, direct payment to states to address the opioid epidemic, and it is about time. Payments to each state, including New York, are slated to fund sorely needed supportive addiction treatment and prevention services. State and local governments are expected to target the recovery funds to bolster services and treat substance abuse disorder as a public health issue.
More than 450,000 Americans have died from opioid addiction and related substance abuse disorders over the last 20 years. New York reported a 200% increase in opioid overdose deaths between 2010 and 2017, from 1,074 to 3,224 fatalities, according to the state Health Department. Substance abuse, overdoses and deaths have skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic.
The settlement fund can’t bring back the lives lost to opioid addiction in Greene and Columbia counties or statewide, but it is a clear sign that justice can prevail over gargantuan but soulless corporations. It can bring those who would offer thousands of men and women the vehicles for their own destruction into the cold light of accountability.