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Alabama specialty courts awarded $1.5M from McKinsey & Company opioid settlement

Attorney General Steve Marshall (R-AL) on Monday announced that he had awarded $1.5 million from a settlement relating to the deadly opioid crisis to the state’s specialty courts.

For more than a decade, consulting giant McKinsey & Company assisted pharmaceutical manufacturer Purdue Pharma employ a mass marketing strategy to promote OxyContin, a highly addictive opioid medication.

The state of Alabama alleged that McKinsey directly contributed to the lethal opioid epidemic by advising Purdue Pharma to partake in marketing schemes to maximize the pharmaceutical manufacturer’s profits from the deadly painkiller. The complaint details the consulting firm’s role in the efforts, which the state says used specific messaging to get physicians to prescribe higher doses of the drug to more patients.

The state’s settlement with McKinsey dictates that funds recovered will be utilized “to remediate the harms caused to the state and its citizens by the opioid epidemic” and “to recover the costs incurred by the state in investigating and pursuing its claims” against the consulting firm.

Marshall, in a meeting with the Office of Prosecution Services and officers from the Alabama District Attorneys Association, awarded prosecutors the funds which will be invested in drug courts, veterans’ courts and mental health courts. According to the attorney general’s office, drug courts have had a positive impact on treating the victims of the crisis who have partaken in crime as a result of their addiction.

Alabama’s chief law enforcement officer believes the funding boost will assist in the state’s efforts to recover from the fatal epidemic.

“Investing in Alabama’s drug courts is directly responsive to the needs of individuals struggling with opioid addiction, but also to the significant strain that the opioid epidemic has placed on our District Attorneys’ offices and court systems across the state,” said Marshall. “President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis rightly recognized the role that drug courts can play in leading our state and country out of this epidemic and I am pleased to make a financial contribution to this end.”

District Attorney Michael Jackson, president of the District Attorneys Association, applauded Marshall’s recognition of the role drug courts hold in combating drug addiction.

“I appreciate the Attorney General’s acknowledgement of the burden that the opioid crisis has placed on prosecutorial offices, which is so often overlooked,” stated Jackson. “Drug courts and pretrial diversion programs are an extremely valuable tool—not only can this type of intervention save the lives of addicted offenders, but these programs also help decrease victimization within communities. We are grateful for our ongoing partnership with the Attorney General’s Office to make our state a safer place to live.”

McKinsey & Company is set to disburse $7.6 million this year, and a total of $9 million, to the state of Alabama over its role in facilitating the crisis. The attorney general’s office says this is the first multi-state opioid settlement to result in substantial payment to the states to combat the crisis.

Two additional distributions from the McKinsey settlement funds will be announced this week, according to Marshall’s office.

The state of Alabama on November 1 will kick off its trial against and Endo Pharmaceuticals and drug distributor McKesson Corporation. The state also has pending claims against manufacturers Purdue Pharma, Mallinckrodt, and Insys in each entity’s respective bankruptcy cases.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL