Pharma and McKinsey: A devil’s​ match

  • McKinsey & Company, according to the Massachusetts AG, had helped the maker of OxyContin fan the flames of the opioid epidemic.
  • McKinsey’s consultants, the attorney general revealed, had instructed the drug company, Purdue Pharma, on how to “turbocharge” sales of OxyContin.
  • McKinsey had advised numerous pharma clients to raise prices on cancer and rare disease drugs because “insurance would pay the high prices”.

Don’t take things too personal. Sometimes, you simply need to remember that, “it’s not personal, it’s business.”  The Godfather

Perhaps the worst kept secret within the pharma industry is that McKinsey has often recommended raising drug prices. Their cold recommendations are based on an unemotional Exel analysis followed by PowerPoint decks that are presented to clients based on their process which doesn’t take into account the emotional side of the business.

People who work at McKinsey are taught their prices of evaluation businesses and making recommendations based on an MBA analysis that is devoid of all the emotional aspects of the business. To Mckinsey, it’s all about maximizing every dollar despite the fact it may hurt patients or, in the case of OxyContin, get people addicted and lead to death.

I am a consultant and my phone is always ringing with new opportunities because pharma loves consultants provided they provide a rationale for what they really want to do. People who work at McKinsey describe an atmosphere of hard work with little life balance and unemotional analysis of businesses based solely on spreadsheets and presentations.

It’s not just McKinsey too. Other large consulting groups often present pharma with ways to maximize their profits without any regard for patients and caregivers. I can’t tell you the number of times I have had to push back against big consulting company recommendations because they might have been good for the balance sheet but morally, they were just wrong.

Let’s not be naive though. Most of the business trade publications are all about the price of a prescribed drug not about the effect on patients, our healthcare system or caregivers. It’sd a cold, hard, analysis based on money which is why our healthcare system is so screwed up.