Publicis Health, a unit of French advertising giant Publicis Groupe SA, reached a $350 million settlement Thursday to resolve claims it aided OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma in fueling the opioid crisis in the United States.
State attorneys general alleged that Publicis Health played a key role in developing "predatory and deceptive marketing strategies" for Purdue Pharma that led to increased prescriptions and sales of OxyContin, which significantly exacerbated the crisis.
Marking the first-ever settlement with an advertising agency for its part in the opioid crisis, the agreement requires Publicis Health to distribute $350 million to affected U.S. states within 60 days.
"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,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said.
Additionally, the company is prohibited from future contracts or engagements related to opioid marketing or sales.
The settlement also stipulates that Publicis has to release internal documents and communications detailing its work with Purdue Pharma and other opioid manufacturers and make them accessible in a public online repository.