Attorney General Josh Kaul announces $350 million settlement with marketing firm over its role in opioid epidemic
MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul 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. Wisconsin will receive more than $6 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 the agreement will give communities hit hardest by the opioid crisis more financial support for treatment and recovery, building lasting infrastructure, and 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 other Schedule III controlled substances.
“The opioid crisis continues to cause devastation in communities across the country, and combating that crisis must continue to be a priority,” said AG Kaul. “This resolution adds to the substantial amount of funds we’ve helped to secure to support efforts in Wisconsin to fight the opioid epidemic.”
States allege that Publicis’ work contributed to the crisis by helping Purdue Pharma and other opioid manufacturers market and sell opioids. 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 patient’s electronic health records.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, more than 10,000 individuals have died from an opioid overdose since the year 2000. These deaths—and the impacts on thousands 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, the impact of opioid addition, substance use and overdose deaths have torn families apart, damaged relationships and devastated communities.
This settlement is the latest action AG Kaul has taken to combat the opioid crisis and to hold accountable those responsible for creating and fueling it. To date, Wisconsin has secured close to $750 million 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 Wisconsin and all states, territories and the District of Columbia.