Publicis Health agrees to a $350 million settlement over allegations it helped Purdue Pharma fuel the opioid crisis.
A unit of French advertising giant Publicis Groupe SA on Thursday agreed to pay $350 million to settle claims that it helped OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma fuel the disease. The opioid epidemic in the United States of America.
State prosecutors claimed Publicis Health played an instrumental role in developing “predatory and deceptive marketing strategies” for Purdue Pharma This has increased prescriptions and sales of OxyContin, and made the opioid crisis even more devastating.
It is the first settlement ever with an advertising company for its role in the opioid crisis.
“For a decade, Publicis has helped opioid manufacturers like Purdue Pharma convince doctors to overprescribe opioids, directly fueling the opioid crisis and devastating communities across the country,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said. “. “No amount of money can make up for lives lost and addiction, but with this agreement, Publicis will stop its illegal behavior and pay $350 million to help our communities rebuild.”
According to lawsuits filed in the states, Publicis Health implemented a strategy developed by McKinsey & Co. for Purdue Pharma known as “Evolve to Excellence.” The strategy targeted doctors who prescribed the most OxyContin and bombarded them with messages touting the “abuse deterrent” aspects of OxyContin and encouraging increased doses. McKinsey & Co. separately agreed to pay $641 million to settle claims from a number of states.
“Publicis created and disseminated unfair and misleading marketing campaigns designed to get doctors to prescribe opioids to more patients, at higher doses, and for longer periods of time,” a Massachusetts lawsuit said. “By design, Publicis’ schemes worked to counter public health measures intended to reduce unnecessary use of opioids, because more opioid use resulted in more profits for Publicis’ opioid customers.”
The settlement agreement requires Publicis Health to pay $350 million to the states within 60 days. The company is also prohibited from accepting any future contracts or engagements related to the marketing or sale of opioids.
Publicis is also required to release internal documents detailing its work for Purdue Pharma and other opioid manufacturers, as well as communications with consultants such as McKinsey and Practice Fusion, to be included in an online document repository for public disclosure purposes.