McKinsey’s extensive work with Purdue included advising it to focus on selling lucrative high-dose pills, the records show, even after the drugmaker pleaded guilty in 2007 to federal criminal charges that it had misled doctors and regulators about OxyContin’s risks. The firm also told Purdue that it could “band together” with other opioid makers to head off “strict treatment” by the Food and Drug Administration...In 2009, the firm wrote a report for Purdue saying that new sales tactics would increase sales of OxyContin by as much as $400 million annually, and suggested “sales ‘drivers’ based on the idea that opioids reduce stress and make patients more optimistic and less isolated,” according to a lawsuit filed in 2018 by Massachusetts. McKinsey worked with Purdue executives in finding ways “to counter the emotional messages from mothers with teenagers that overdosed” on the drug. In 2013, the federal government reached a settlement with Walgreens, the pharmacy chain, to crack down on illegal opioid prescriptions. Sales to Walgreens began to fall. According to the Massachusetts lawsuit, McKinsey recommended that Purdue “lobby Walgreens’ leaders to loosen up.”
For decades, McKinsey has helped manufacturers boost sales of the most lethal consumer product in American history — cigarettes... McKinsey began counseling the tobacco industry in 1956, when researchers had already reported data suggesting that smoking appeared to cause cancer... In 1964, Surgeon General Luther L. Terry settled questions over the dangers of smoking when he announced to the nation that studies had confirmed the link between cigarettes and cancer... In addition to Philip Morris, the firm’s clients included R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard, Brown & Williamson, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International... As late as 2019, McKinsey’s roster of tobacco clients included not just Altria but also Imperial Brands, British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International... From 2018 through early 2020, McKinsey made at least $45 million in fees from these four companies, including more than $30 million from Altria alone, according to McKinsey billing records.
McKinsey saw nothing wrong in advising to maximise sales,
McKinsey saw merit — and profits — in continuing to help companies sell more cigarettes. In a slide deck prepared for Altria, formerly Philip Morris, McKinsey offered ideas for how the tobacco company could keep customers and lure new smokers. It presented a mock-up of what a Marlboro smartphone app would look like, complete with a way for loyal smokers to win points redeemable for small prizes... McKinsey also advised Altria on marketing e-cigarettes, with the goal of making one of its products the “Nespresso of e-vapor”... It wasn’t until 2017 that the consultancy performed a pricing study for Juul’s vaping device. Afterward, McKinsey offered advice on branding, organization, retail, flavor evaluation, youth vaping prevention and regulatory issues... Flavored nicotine had become highly controversial because health care experts blamed Juul for using flavors that appealed to young people... McKinsey had surveyed teenagers as young as 13, asking them to rank flavor names in order of preference.
But the most corrosive aspect was the simultaneous engagement with the regulators of the industry,
McKinsey’s most important work for Juul involved responding to the F.D.A.’s crackdown on youth vaping. With the F.D.A. circling, demanding answers as to why teenagers were so attracted to Juul, the company asked McKinsey to help prepare a defense and respond to the agency’s inquiry. The nature of that work remains a secret, because for those services McKinsey was paid through Juul’s law firm, Sidley Austin, allowing Mr. Alfonso Pulido, a McKinsey partner, to claim lawyer-client privilege... After Congress gave the F.D.A. the authority to regulate tobacco products in 2009, the agency sought McKinsey’s wisdom on a variety of issues, though its leaders apparently were unaware that the firm had been guiding Big Tobacco’s development for decades. In subsequent years, the agency awarded the consultancy $11 million for advice on tobacco regulation and for organizing the F.D.A. office that includes tobacco regulation... McKinsey’s services are highly valued... For companies selling addictive products it also offered deep ties to the Food and Drug Administration, a regulatory agency vital to their survival. In four years under President Donald J. Trump, McKinsey took in $77 million in consulting contracts with the F.D.A.
McKinsey's role in advising addictive industry clients like opiod and tobacco manufacturers on increasing their sales while also consulting for FDA to regulate the drugs and tobacco industry should count as the Great Conceit of Consulting. It's the clearest signal of state capture that McKinsey was even considered eligible to bid for FDA's consulting contract to regulate tobacco and drugs industry even as it was advising the industry also on how to beat FDA regulations.
How could McKinsey, with its booming health care practice, justify advising hospitals and government agencies on how to reduce health care costs and improve medical outcomes when for years its tobacco clients were filling hospital beds with the sick and dying at an enormous cost to society?