CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Public school districts in West Virginia are suing the consulting company believed to be responsible for the opioid crisis due to the resulting births of infants addicted to opioids and the following strain of special education departments in public schools.
According to the complaint, McKinsey & Company, Inc. is being sued for creating and implementing the marketing plan that led to Purdue Pharma pleading guilty to federal crimes for marketing and distributing its OxyContin and other opioid brands throughout the country, including West Virginia.
The complaint includes charging McKinsey with racketeering and conspiracy and with creating a public nuisance, in coordination with Purdue, the Sacklers and a generic manufacturer set up by the Sacklers, to expand profits from the sale of both brand-name and generic opioids. Purdue pled guilty to federal opioid marketing crimes in 2007.
From 2007 to 2012, some 780 million doses of oxycodone and hydrocodone were put into West Virginia—that’s enough to provide 433 pills to every man, woman, and child in the state. This caused an addiction crisis that led to a steep rise in babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.
These children are more likely to be diagnosed with disabilities requiring special education services and other behavioral and academic support. Experts say this costs an additional $127 billion for school systems across the country.
Public schools are legally mandated to identify students with special needs and provide free and appropriate public education, including “special education and related services” tailored to their unique needs.
The opioid crisis has given rise to a severe funding challenge to support the growing number of students who need special education or supplemental services.
Public schools are also the largest employer in the United States and face massive expenses stemming from the over-prescribing of opioids.
“Public school districts across the country are experiencing unprecedented challenges and costs as a consequence of the nationwide opioid epidemic,” said James Humphreys, counsel for the public school districts. “The school districts and teachers providing the services needed by these injured children deserve redress from those that have caused this epidemic. The taxpayers of West Virginia shouldn’t be left holding the bag for these additional costs by those who profited so handsomely from the misery of others. That’s why this lawsuit seeks certification as a class action on behalf of all public school districts in West Virginia.”