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UPDATE 2-McKinsey reaches $573 mln settlement with US states over role in opioid crisis

(Adds McKinsey comments, other settlements, bylines)

Feb 4 (Reuters) - McKinsey & Co, the consulting firm, has agreed to pay $573 million to resolve investigations by most U.S. states over its alleged role in “turbocharging” sales of opioids such as OxyContin, fueling a nationwide epidemic.

Most money from the settlement with 47 states, the District of Columbia and five territories will go toward opioid treatment and prevention.

McKinsey did not admit liability or wrongdoing, and said it had also settled with two additional states, boosting its payout to nearly $600 million.

The firm must also turn over tens of thousands of internal documents concerning its work for drugmakers including Purdue Pharma, which is owned by the wealthy Sackler family and is the drugmaker most closely associated with the epidemic.

“They were part of a machine that disrupted, in fact destroyed, lives and families in America,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said at a press conference. “Today we hold McKinsey to account.”

McKinsey will continue investigating whether employees, including two partners, tried to destroy documents in response to probes concerning its work with Purdue.

“We deeply regret that we did not adequately acknowledge the tragic consequences of the epidemic,” McKinsey Global Managing Partner Kevin Sneader said in a statement. “We hope to be part of the solution to the opioid crisis in the U.S.”

In October, Purdue agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges over its marketing of OxyContin, as part of a more than $8 billion settlement.

Much of that sum will go unpaid, as states and other creditors try to recoup what they can in Purdue’s bankruptcy proceedings, which began in 2019.

More than 3,300 lawsuits seek to hold drugmakers, distributors and pharmacies responsible for an opioid epidemic that led to an estimated 450,000 overdose deaths in the United States from 1999 to 2018.

“This crisis is fundamentally one of overprescribing,” North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said at the press conference. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bernadette Baum)

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