Their work could be reputationally toxic

Oh how interesting.

How The CEO Of A Leading LGBTQ Rights Group Played A Role During The Opioid Crisis

By “played a role” they mean “helped make it worse.”

Amit Paley, CEO of The Trevor Project, was part of a team advising Purdue Pharma on how to boost sales of opioids during his time at McKinsey & Co., according to a trove of documents reviewed by HuffPost.

How to boost sales of opioids aka how to get more people addicted to opioids.

It’s all about the getting people to buy more and more and more drugs. $$$

In the summer of 2016, America’s opioid epidemic was raging, and Purdue Pharma, one of the drug manufacturers at the center of the maelstrom, was seeking outside help to manage its collapsing reputation.

In the summer of 2016, America’s opioid epidemic was raging, and Purdue Pharma, one of the drug manufacturers at the center of the maelstrom, was seeking outside help to manage its collapsing reputation.

For Amit Paley, a rising associate partner at the global consulting giant McKinsey & Co., it was an opportunity.

What’s a consulting giant? What is “consulting”? It’s a very nebulous term, and it seems to be something people can claim to do without having to show any credentials or source of expertise.

He had worked closely with Purdue before and seemed eager to do so again. So, on a Friday evening in June, Paley scrambled to come up with a list of past examples of how companies selling dangerous products had reduced risk in order to avoid liability and salvaged their reputations with an outraged public.

Oh that’s the kind of work he does. I see. He works for the branch of capitalism that protects people who harm others for $$$. What a noble calling! Corporations foul your water supply, call a consultant. Corporations sell cigarettes in the full knowledge that they’re addictive and poisonous? Call a consultant. Corporations sell highly addictive drugs as the death toll climbs? Call a consultant. Corporations sell puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to people who think they’re the opposite sex? Call a consultant.

Today, Paley has a new job: executive director and CEO of the country’s largest LGBTQ crisis hotline, The Trevor Project, which he has led since 2017.

The Trevor Project is also among the countless nonprofits now grappling with the fallout of the opioid crisis: A report the group put out in January said the misuse of prescription drugs was associated with a threefold increase in suicide attempts by LGBTQ people.

And then there are the blockers and cross-sex hormones…

Besides helping McKinsey compete for Purdue’s crisis response business, Paley collaborated with Purdue executives over a period of four or five weeks on a strategic 10-year plan to boost the sales of opioids and other Purdue products. Later, as McKinsey competed to handle data analysis for Purdue, his team suggested ways to use data to support Purdue’s sales goals and undermine its critics.

“Seven years ago, when I was a consultant at McKinsey, I was assigned to a project for Purdue,” Paley said as part of a statement to HuffPost. “If I [had known] then what I know now, I would not have agreed to do any consulting for that company, and I regret that I did.”

Now he’s a pillar of a form of activism that urges people (including children and toddlers) to be drug-dependent in an exciting new way.

His role came to light thanks to McKinsey’s $573 million settlement with a coalition of 47 state attorneys general over the firm’s role in driving the opioid crisis. For more than a decade, McKinsey provided Purdue with detailed advice on how to maximize sales of its blockbuster opioid, OxyContin. The settlement terms allowed McKinsey to avoid any admission of wrongdoing, but required it to make public more than 100,000 emails, presentations, and other internal documents from the years it spent advising several of the nation’s leading opioid makers.

Big data could even help discredit negative press, [McKinsey] said in its pitch: Weeks earlier, the Los Angeles Times dropped a damning report on how Purdue had marketed OxyContin as offering 12 hours of pain relief despite knowing that the effects often wore off sooner — “the perfect recipe for addiction,” in the words of a leading researcher. The story relied partly on research performed by Purdue itself. McKinsey nevertheless claimed it could produce data to counter the Times’ “anecdotal” reporting.

For the purpose of persuading people to go on taking OxyContin despite all the bad news. $$$

“The Trevor Project CEO search was a thorough and robust process which resulted in hiring the most qualified candidate in Amit Paley,” Gina Muñoz, the chair of the board of directors, said in a statement. “The Board of Directors remains steadfast in our choice of CEO and we are proud of the transformational growth and expansion of life-saving programming at The Trevor Project that Amit has led since the start of his tenure.”

What life-saving programming is that? Does it have anything to do with taking puberty blockers and/or cross-sex hormones?

Paley’s team leaders at McKinsey seemed acutely aware that their work could be reputationally toxic. In May 2017, Moran, his supervisor on several projects, told another consultant, Arnab Ghatak, that she planned to give Purdue print copies of a presentation rather than a digital version. “These guys will be deposed,” she reasoned. “Best our emails are not sucked into it.”

Whoops. She shouldn’t have said that in a digital version either.

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