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Attorney General William Tong


Attorney General Tong Announces $350 Million Settlement With Multinational Marketing Firm Publicis Over Role in Opioid Epidemic

(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong 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. Connecticut will receive nearly $4.44 million from the settlement to help address the opioid crisis, as well as $332,000 to cover the costs of the leading the lengthy, multistate investigation.

Connecticut was part of a ten-state executive committee leading the investigation. All states, territories, and the District of Columbia joined the settlement.

In agreeing to the terms of the settlement, Publicis recognized the harm its conduct caused. 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 narcotics.

“Publicis was a callous mercenary behind some of Purdue Pharma’s worst sales and marketing tactics. Together with Purdue, Publicis schemed new, ruthless ways to push OxyContin to more and more patients, fueling the opioid epidemic that continues to ravage Connecticut families and communities across the country. Connecticut was among the states leading this investigation and today’s settlement, as we continue to play an aggressive role in bringing the entire addiction industry to justice,” said Attorney General Tong.

“It is undeniable that misleading marketing tactics aided in creating the opioid crisis,” said Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Bryan T. Cafferelli. “While no settlement could ever undo the damage done to families across the country, holding everyone accountable who played a role, and securing funds to support treatment, prevention, and recovery, is a top priority for our state. I look forward to continuing our work with the Attorney General’s office, as well as our continued work on prescription overdose prevention, and ensuring every community in Connecticut has access to life-saving naloxone.”

Today’s filings describe how Publicis’ work 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 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.

In 2022 alone, Connecticut lost 1,464 people to opioid overdoses. 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 on opioid addition, substance use, and overdose deaths have torn families apart, damaged relationships, and devastated communities.

Today’s filing is the latest action Attorney General Tong has taken to combat the opioid crisis and to hold accountable those responsible for creating and fueling the crisis. Over the past five years, Connecticut has led nationwide efforts to secure more than $50 billion to combat the opioid epidemic. Connecticut will receive $600 million to support treatment, prevention, and recovery. That money has begun to flow. Connecticut’s Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee, comprised of health professionals, individuals with lived experience, and state and municipal leaders are responsible for allocating and accounting for opioid settlement funds.

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 all states, territories, and the District of Columbia.
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