Attorney General Marshall Announces $350 million Opioid Settlement with Multinational Marketing Firm Publicis

Alabama will receive nearly $5.5 million from settlement

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MONTGOMERY-Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall today announced a $350 million national settlement with Publicis Health to resolve investigations into the global marketing and communications firm’s role in the prescription opioid crisis. Alabama will receive nearly $5.5 million from the settlement to help address the opioid crisis. According to the terms of the settlement, Publicis recognized the harm its conduct caused. The company will also disclose on a public website thousands of internal documents detailing its work for opioid companies like Purdue Pharma and will stop accepting client work related to opioid-based Schedule II or other Schedule III controlled substances.

“Alabama remains unwavering in our multifaceted effort to hold all contributors – manufacturing, distribution, prescription, or marketing—for their part in the opioid epidemic. Publicis played a pivotal role in promoting these drugs, contributing to overprescribing, fostering addiction, and tragically resulting in numerous lives lost,” stated Attorney General Marshall. “Our commitment to ending this epidemic knows no bounds, and we will relentlessly pursue justice to restore Alabama from the profound societal impact caused by the collective actions of the opioid industry and its associates.”

Today’s filings in the Montgomery County Circuit Court describe how Publicis’ work contributed to the crisis by helping Purdue Pharma and other opioid manufacturers market and sell opioids. Court documents detail how Publicis acted as Purdue’s agency of record for all its branded opioid drugs, including OxyContin, even developing sales tactics that relied on farming data from recordings of personal health-related in-office conversations between patients and providers. The company was also instrumental in Purdue’s decision to market OxyContin to providers on patients’ electronic health records.

Thousands of Alabamians have died from prescription opioid overdoses over the last 20 years. These deaths—and the impacts on thousands more who have struggled with opioid addiction—have created considerable costs for our health care, child welfare, and criminal justice systems. More significant than the dollars and cents in damage to our state, opioid addiction, substance use, and overdose deaths have torn families apart, damaged relationships, and devastated communities.

Today’s filing is the latest action Attorney General Marshall has taken to combat the opioid crisis and to hold accountable those responsible for creating and fueling the crisis. To date, the State has reached settlements totaling over $500 million, for Alabama alone, with drug manufacturers and others for their roles in the crisis. Settlement monies are being shared between the State and local governments, including public hospitals and county health departments. Strict guidelines in the settlements require that these settlement funds be spent to abate the opioid crisis in Alabama. In November, Attorney General Marshall sent a letter to local leaders statewide emphasizing the importance of implementing long-term strategies and warning that any non-approved allocations of settlement dollars could cost the State future payments from the opioid defendants.

Colorado led the multistate group during this investigation and was joined on an executive committee by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Idaho, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont. They are joined by the attorneys general from all states, territories, and the District of Columbia.

Media Release/Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall

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