Conflict Blindness at McKinsey — Again

There must be something in the water at McKinsey.  Or perhaps they screen for it in the DNA in the hiring process.  The gang there at McKinsey could not spot a conflict if it was written on a neon sign in Amish farm country in Lancaster. These pages have documented the legendary firm’s blindness to conflicts in the past.  However, the  New York Times has culled through the firm’s e-mails, obtained through a congressional investigation of McKinsey’s work with Purdue Pharma — the mighty marketer of Oxycontin, an opioid.

Turns out that McKinsey was also serving as a consultant for Alex M. Azar, the former HHS secretary.  The McKinsey folks working with HHS issued reports warning Secretary Azar of the importance of addressing the opioid crisis.  However, the warnings really did not get to HHS in their original form.  That would be because McKinsey partners working with Purdue, in e-mails, objected.  When the author of the strategic plan focus for HHS was vetoed a few times he wrote that a colleague working with Purdue “waters down whatever I say.”  Chris Hamby, Walt Bogdanich, Michael Forsyth, and Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, “How McKinsey Advised Purdue and the FDA,” New York Times, April 14, 2022, p. A1.

McKinsey’s response?  “Because there was not a conflict of interest, there was not a requirement of disclosure.”   So there!

One side of the house is stopping the other side of the house working with the regulators from regulating even as they are pushing exponential sales plans for their regulated pharma client.  How could there be a conflict?  It’s either in the water or DNA.  No one is this untrainable on compliance.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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