Global consulting firm McKinsey & Company is under a criminal investigation by the U.S. attorneys' offices in Massachusetts and the Western District of Virginia over its alleged involvement in fueling the opioid epidemic.

The Federal prosecutors, along with the Justice Department's civil division in Washington, are specifically examining whether the consulting firm participated in a criminal conspiracy by providing advice to Purdue Pharma and other pharmaceutical companies on marketing tactics aimed at increasing sales of prescription painkillers.

Purdue is the manufacturer of OxyContin, one of the painkillers that allegedly contributed to widespread addiction and fatal overdoses.

Since 2021, McKinsey has reached settlements of approximately $1 billion to resolve investigations and legal actions into its collaboration with opioid manufacturers, primarily Purdue.

The company allegedly advised Purdue to intensify its marketing of the drug amid the opioid epidemic, which has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. McKinsey has not admitted any wrongdoing.

The investigations do not imply wrongdoing, and the officials involved may ultimately pursue criminal charges, seek civil sanctions, or close the probe without any further action.

The investigation, initiated several years ago prior to the global pandemic, includes officials from the Justice Department across offices in Washington, Massachusetts, and Virginia.

By 2018, senior McKinsey consultants were becoming increasingly concerned about potential accountability for their involvement in opioid-related work. On July 4 of that year, Martin Elling, a leader in the firm's pharmaceutical practice, made a decision he would later come to regret. He sent an email to Arnab Ghatak, a senior partner, inquiring about the potential elimination of documents and emails associated with opioids.

Ghatak replied: "Thanks for the heads up. Will do."

Following The Times' report in 2020 about the existence of these emails, both men were terminated from their positions.

The Justice Department is also investigating whether McKinsey participated in healthcare fraud by allegedly aiding companies selling opioids in making fraudulent claims to government programs like Medicare.

Investigators are also examining whether McKinsey obstructed justice after the company's acknowledgment that it terminated two partners who were found to have communicated about deleting documents related to their work on opioids.

McKinsey earned approximately $86 million over the course of several years advising Purdue Pharma. The majority of this work occurred after Purdue's guilty plea. In 2019, McKinsey announced it would stop advising clients on matters related to opioids.