OAN’s Abril Elfi 6:16 PM – Thursday, February 1, 2024
Attorney General (AG) Andrea Joy Campbell announced a $350 million national settlement with Publicis Health in order to settle claims that the company helped OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma fuel the deadly opioid epidemic in the United States.
The state’s AG asserted that Publicis Health played a major part in creating “predatory and deceptive marketing strategies” for Purdue Pharma, which led to a rise in unnecessary OxyContin prescriptions and sales, exacerbating the opioid crisis.
This is the first time that a company’s advertising tactics has ever been charged for its part in the opioid crisis.
“For a decade, Publicis helped opioid manufacturers like Purdue Pharma convince doctors to overprescribe opioids, directly fueling the opioid crisis and causing the devastation of communities nationwide,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “No amount of money can compensate for lives lost and addiction suffered, but with this agreement, Publicis will cease their illegal behavior and pay $350 million to help our communities rebuild.”
The state’s lawsuits claim that Publicis Health adopted a McKinsey & Co.-created “Evolve to Excellence” strategy for Purdue Pharma. The plan was to reward doctors who wrote the most OxyContin prescriptions. They urged doctors to use messaging tactics that highlighted the drug’s “abuse-deterrent” qualities, while pushing for higher dosages.
Additionally, a separate settlement was agreed to by McKinsey & Co., where they were forced to pay $641 million to settle claims made by several states.
“Publicis devised and deployed unfair and deceptive marketing campaigns designed to push doctors to prescribe opioids to more patients, in higher doses, and for longer periods of time,” a lawsuit by the state of Massachusetts said. “By design, Publicis’s schemes worked to counter public health measures intended to reduce unnecessary opioid use, because more opioid use generated more profits for Publicis’s opioid clients.”
Public Health is now required to pay $350 million to the states within 60 days, as stated in the settlement.
The settlement also banned the company from accepting future contracts or engagement related to the sales or marketing of opioids.
Additionally, in order to be made publicly available, Publicis must make certain internal documents available that describe its work for Purdue Pharma and other opioid manufacturers, as well as correspondence with consultants like McKinsey and Practice Fusion.
These documents will be stored in an online document repository.