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Attorney General Josh Stein Announces $350 Million Opioid Settlement with Marketing Firm Publicis

For Immediate Release:
Thursday, February 1, 2024

Nazneen Ahmed (919) 716-0060

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein 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. North Carolina will receive more than $11 million from the settlement to help address the opioid crisis.

“Companies like Publicis helped fuel the opioid and fentanyl crises that continue to devastate our communities,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “My colleagues and I are holding them accountable and putting these millions to work addressing the opioid crisis. We have a lot of work ahead to get people the help they need.”

Publicis 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 marketing agency of record for all its branded opioid drugs, including OxyContin, even developing sales tactics that relied on exploiting 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.

As part of the settlement, 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.

More than 36,000 North Carolinians have died from a drug overdose between 2000 and 2022. 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 overdose crisis has torn families apart, damaged relationships, and devastated communities.

Today’s filing is the latest action Attorney General Stein has taken to combat the opioid crisis and to hold accountable those responsible for creating and fueling the crisis. To date, North Carolina has won more than $1.4 billion in legal settlements with drug manufacturers and others for their roles in the crisis.

The Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont led the settlement and are joined by the attorneys general from all states, territories, and the District of Columbia.