Last updated March 22, 2021

This website provides information about McKinsey & Company’s past work for opioid manufacturers and its response to related issues.

McKinsey has reached agreements with all 50 State Attorneys General, as well as five US territories and the District of Columbia, resolving matters related to our past work for opioid manufacturers. McKinsey first entered into agreements with 49 State Attorneys General, the District of Columbia and five US territories on February 4, 2021. On March 22, 2021, the firm reached a similar agreement with the State of Nevada.

We recognize that our work for opioid manufacturers, while lawful, fell short of the high standards we set for ourselves and that we did not adequately acknowledge the epidemic unfolding in communities across the country. We decided nearly two years ago to end all work on opioid-specific business and have committed to being part of the solution to this serious challenge.

McKinsey has continued to take steps to strengthen its client selection policies, professional standards, and its risk and governance processes to ensure our work is consistent with our values and commitment to social responsibility.

More information about the settlement and changes to our client selection process can be found below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the terms of the settlement agreements?

As part of the settlements with the Attorneys General of 50 states, five territories and the District of Columbia, McKinsey will pay the states approximately $600 million, which they will use to address the impact of the opioid epidemic in their communities. We have also reaffirmed the commitment we made two years ago not to advise clients on any opioid-related business anywhere in the world, and have agreed to participate in the public disclosure of documents relating to our past work for opioid manufacturers.

We believe our past work was lawful and have denied allegations to the contrary. The settlement agreements themselves contain no admission of wrongdoing or liability.

How will the states use these settlement funds?

The states will use these funds to address the impact of the opioid epidemic in their communities. Their exact use will be decided by each state individually.

Why did McKinsey settle?

As McKinsey’s Global Managing Partner Kevin Sneader stated, “We chose to resolve this matter in order to provide fast, meaningful support to communities across the United States. We deeply regret that we did not adequately acknowledge the tragic consequences of the epidemic unfolding in our communities. With this agreement, we hope to be part of the solution to the opioid crisis in the United States.

“We are determined to take the steps necessary to strengthen our firm’s risk management policies and culture. We will build on the steps we have already taken to learn from past mistakes, and ensure we consistently meet the high standards our firm has always aspired to.”

What changes have you or are you making to the firm, if any, in light of this development?

In early 2019, we announced that we would no longer serve any clients on opioid-related business anywhere in the world. In addition, over the last two years, McKinsey has made a number of changes to improve its risk and governance processes. These upgrades include:

  • Adopting a best-in-class client service policy to guide what clients the firm serves and on what topics. See more:
  • Adopting and enforcing a code of conduct which leaves no room for doubt as to the high standards required of every colleague. See more:
  • Strengthening and scaling up the firm’s control functions and hiring a new General Counsel with government service experience and a deep background in ethics and governance.
  • Enhancing the firm’s professional standards training and introducing an anonymous concerns hotline to embed and reinforce the firm’s high expectations for all colleagues.

Going forward, what are McKinsey’s criteria for choosing clients?

We have long had policies governing what work we will and will not do. In 2019, we strengthened these policies further by launching a more rigorous framework and set of criteria to evaluate our client service.

This framework ensures that we take a consistent, holistic approach to evaluating the clients we serve and the likely impact of our work to determine if it meets the high expectations and ethical standards held by our colleagues, clients and other external stakeholders.

Our Client Service Policy also includes bright-line rules for work we will not perform. For example, we will not serve political parties, political advocacy groups, legislatures or individual legislators’ offices. Another example is that we do not serve defense, intelligence, justice or policing institutions in non-democratic countries (for which we base our assessment on a respected external index), apart from carefully considered exceptions for international aid and humanitarian support.

We invite you to read more about our client and engagement selection policies here:

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Our Client Selection Process

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