Publicis to pay $350 million for “fueling” the crisis

Publicis to pay 0 million for “fueling” the crisis

A subsidiary of French advertising giant Publicis will pay $350 million to the United States for its role in the country’s opioid crisis, the New York State prosecutor announced on Thursday.

“Predatory and deceptive strategies”

“For a decade, Publicis helped opioid manufacturers like Purdue Pharma convince doctors to overprescribe opioids, directly fueling the opioid crisis and causing the disappearance of populations across the country,” noted the prosecutor.

She believes that Publicis “developed predatory and deceptive marketing strategies for Purdue Pharma in order to increase prescriptions and sales of opiates.”

According to her, the advertising agency created flyers describing OxyContin as a treatment that was “safe and incapable of causing abuse.”

More than 700,000 dead

The Purdue laboratory produces the pain medication OxyContin, the overprescription of which is generally considered to be the trigger of the opioid crisis in the United States.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), more than 700,000 people died between 1999 and 2022 from an overdose linked to taking opiates, obtained on prescription or illegally.

“This agreement is not an admission of fault”

Publicis Health subsequently indicated, in a press release, that the activities concerned had been carried out by the Rosetta agency, purchased in 2011 and closed ten years ago.

“This settlement agreement allows us to close three years of discussion, and concludes with a net payment of 148 million euros,” she added, affirming that it did not represent an acknowledgment of fault or responsibility .

“We will defend ourselves, if necessary, against any dispute that this agreement fails to resolve,” assured Publicis Health.

The group, which had made a provision in its accounts for the fourth quarter of 2023 with a view to this transaction, specified that the total compensation represented 343 million dollars to which were added 7 million in legal costs.

The agency also asserted that the work performed by Rosetta “on behalf of pharmaceutical companies and covered by this settlement has always been fully compliant with the law.”

More than $2.7 billion collected through lawsuits

Targeted by an avalanche of lawsuits, the Purdue laboratory declared bankruptcy in 2019 and has since negotiated a plan, the latest version of which provides for its closure by 2024 in the United States for the benefit of a new entity and the payment of at least $5.5 billion over 18 years. But the US Supreme Court was asked to approve or cancel the compensation agreement. A hearing was held in December 2023.

The consulting firm McKinsey agreed in 2021 to pay $573 million to settle legal proceedings launched against it for contributing to the opioid crisis.

Large drug distributors like CVS, Walgreens and Walmart have also been sued.

The prosecutor’s office says it has recovered more than $2.7 billion from prosecutions since 2019.

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