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Delaware to recover damages from its first opioid crisis settlement

Delaware Public Media

Delaware is receiving its first payout from legal action taken in response to the national opioid crisis. 

Delaware is among states involved in a settlement with the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. The company is accused of profiting off of the opioid epidemic by helping drug companies promote addictive and deadly drugs like OxyContin. 

“McKinsey profited off of the opioid crisis for more than a decade,” said Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings. “When they found out that they were under investigation, some of their partners attempted to deceive all of us by concealing their communication with their opioid clients.”       

McKinsey is set to pay $573 million to a list of states. That sum exceeds the total revenue McKinsey collected from its opioid clients, and includes $2.58 million paid to the state of Delaware. 

The settlement also calls for the consulting firm to make public tens of thousands of documents detailing its work for Purdue Pharma and other opioid companies. McKinsey also agreed to stop advising companies on potentially dangerous Schedule II and Schedule III narcotics.

Jennings says it will not be the last damages Delaware recovers in lawsuits related to the opioid crisis. 

Delaware, along with several other states, sued a list of pharmaceutical companies including Purdue Pharma in 2018, alleging they misled consumers about the safety of their products. Delaware was among the states that refused to settle with Purdue the following year. Delaware has also sued members of the Sackler family, who owns Purdue, over their role in the opioid epidemic.

Jennings says the state DOJ is working with lawmakers to draft legislation creating an opioid abatement fund that would direct opioid-related settlements towards the First State’s ongoing effort to combat the crisis. She adds the effort involves working with local governments to ensure the funds are apportioned to “the right cause.”

“That means we have to look at populations that are hardest hit in our small state,” she said. “There are areas, for example, in Sussex County that have populations that have been devastated by the opioid epidemic.”

Thousands have died in Delaware from opioid overdoses in recent years. State officials say they expect a record number of more than 500 overdose deaths for 2020 once toxicology reports are finalized.

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