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Publicis Health reaches $350M settlement for role in national opioid crisis

Rebecca Barnabi
opioid crisis
Photo Credit: Robert Wilson

A $350 million national settlement with Publicis Health seeks to resolve investigations into the global marketing and communications firm’s role in the prescription opioid crisis.

Virginia will receive $7.82 million from the settlement to help address the opioid crisis.

In agreeing to the terms of the settlement, Publicis recognized the harm its conduct caused, and that the agreement will provide communities hit the hardest by the opioid epidemic more financial support for treatment and recovery, establishing lasting infrastructure, and, ultimately, saving lives. 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 Schedule III controlled substances.

“The opioid epidemic has impacted every community in Virginia, destroying relationships and tearing apart families. Although it is impossible to quantify the value of the lives lost, I’m glad that my office has secured $7.82 million to go toward education, prevention, and recovery efforts,” Miyares said.

Today’s filings illustrate 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, and even developed sales tactics relying on farming data from private 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 patient’s electronic health records.

Virginia has so far secured more than $1 billion in legal settlements with drug manufacturers and others for their roles in the crisis.

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.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.