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Indiana wins millions in settlement against consulting firm said to be responsible for opioid epidemic

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Thursday marked history for Indiana as Attorney General Todd Rokita announced a $12.5 million settlement against consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, who is said to be responsible for the nation’s opioid epidemic. 

News 8 spoke with Rokita about the settlement and what Hoosiers who’ve been victims of the epidemic can expect in the near future. 

Gillis: Today marks a historic day in Indiana. Tell us what’s going on. 

Rokita: Yes. It’s an important day today. This is the first time in Indiana history that we are actually going to receive money from wrong-doers regarding the opioid crisis that’s plagued our entire country. 

We are looking at a $12 million settlement coming in from a consultant to doctors hired by pharmaceutical companies to over-prescribe….teaching them how to over-prescribe opioid medications to unsuspecting Hoosiers. 

Gillis: What does this settlement mean for communities impacted by the opioid epidemic?

Rokita: We know that we’ve had this epidemic for several years and we know that people need to be treated. They need rehabilitation and we have to educate them so that people understand how to prevent this from happening. The fact of the matter is opioids have some good uses. They can really help with pain management, but there are so many other alternatives to pain management these days that don’t rely on the addictive nature of the opioid drug. And that’s the problem. 

What McKinsey did–who this settlement is about–they knowingly…knowing that the opioids were addictive…taught doctors how to over-prescribe this medication. At the same time, they consulted with governments and nonprofits showing them how to solve the opioid epidemic. So, they were actually on both sides of the equation. All for money. This is a typical example of greed over people’s health and this is exactly why I got into public service–to stop that greed that ends up hurting all of us. 

Gillis: That’s unbelievable. And we’re so grateful to have people like you who fight this fight. How do we make sure that McKinsey stays accountable for this?

Rokita: That’s a great question. I will tell you as part of the settlement we mandated that the company has to disclose all of the documents, all of the emails. So, you will see over a period of time—they will have some time to put it all together because they want to be able to tell their part of what the story is as well. So, we’re giving them some time. 

But eventually you and the public will see all the emails where they were teaching doctors how to do this. How to over-prescribe as part of their contract and everything. So, first of all transparency and then if they break the terms of the settlement–if we don’t get our money and if they don’t do these other things that they are supposed to do in the settlement agreement–we can immediately go to court and start enforcing the agreement. 

What we’re doing in exchange for their agreement to settle we’re saving a lot of state resources from having to try them in front of a jury or otherwise court of law. But the minute they don’t comply with this agreement we’re going to be right there. So will you–I imagine–keeping these people accountable. 

Gillis: Well, that’s what we’re here for. To cover these things and keep track of what’s going on and save our Hoosiers and remember those who’ve suffered such loss. 

Rokita: Right. My next part of this is going to be inviting the governor and leaders of the general assembly and other elected leaders to work on devising a real effective plan to make sure this money actually gets to your viewers who’ve been hurt. We don’t want this money stuck in a bureaucracy. We don’t want it going to administrative expenses. We really want to get it to Hoosiers. There’s enough people in the state government. We don’t need to hire more people for this. We just need to get those folks to get the money out into these counties and into these localities so that people can really be helped. So, that will be my next focus. 

Gillis: Well, you can never replace a loss. But it is a win and we’re so grateful we have people like you and your team who are fighting this fight for Hoosiers across the state.   

News 8’s medical reporter, Dr. Mary Elizabeth Gillis, D.Ed., is a classically trained medical physiologist and biobehavioral research scientist. She has been a health, medical and science reporter for over 5 years. Her work has been featured in national media outlets. You can follow her on Facebook @DrMaryGillis.