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Attorney General Brown reveals $7.2 million in earnings for Maryland Opioid Restitution Fund following settlement with Publicis, an Opioids Marketing Firm


Purdue allegedly hired Publicis to develop marketing campaigns aimed at boosting sales of OxyContin and other prescription opioids. The complaint alleges that Publicis, fully aware of the consequences of opioid over prescription, played a role in implementing deceptive marketing schemes during the 2010s.




Maryland Attorney General Anthony G. Brown announced today that he, along with other state Attorneys General collaborating with tribal governments, has reached a comprehensive $350 million settlement agreement with Publicis Health, LLC, a division of the global marketing conglomerate Publicis Groupe, S.A. Maryland is set to receive $7.2 million from this settlement, earmarked for the ongoing battle against the opioid crisis.


Additionally, the settlement imposes obligations on Publicis, requiring public disclosure of specific communications with drug companies regarding opioids and compelling the company to cease advising on the sale of DEA Schedule II and III opioids.


Publicis, recognized as one of the largest healthcare marketing firms globally, has been accused in a complaint filed by Maryland Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division of collaborating with Purdue Pharma, a prominent opioids manufacturer.


Purdue allegedly hired Publicis to develop marketing campaigns aimed at boosting sales of OxyContin and other prescription opioids. The complaint alleges that Publicis, fully aware of the consequences of opioid over prescription, played a role in implementing deceptive marketing schemes during the 2010s. These schemes allegedly exaggerated the benefits and downplayed the risks of Purdue’s opioids, contributing to increased sales.


Attorney General Brown expressed condemnation for Publicis' role, stating that their designs and marketing efforts spread misinformation, fueling the opioid crisis and causing addiction and death.

The complaint also details Publicis' involvement in Purdue's payment of kickbacks to an electronic medical records company, Practice Fusion, from 2012 to 2019. This scheme incentivized the prescription of long-acting opioids, including OxyContin, through clinical decision support alerts. In 2020, both Purdue and Practice Fusion pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to the kickback scheme.


The complaint further alleges that Publicis designed marketing campaigns encouraging higher doses and prolonged use of opioids, providing guidance to Purdue during in-person calls with prescribers.


The opioid crisis has claimed more than 26,666 lives in Maryland, with nearly seven additional deaths per day on average. The $350 million settlement aligns with the ongoing efforts of the Office of the Attorney General to combat illegal conduct contributing to the opioid crisis and obtain funds to mitigate its consequences.


Maryland's share of $7.2 million will be directed to the Maryland Opioid Restitution Fund, established in 2019 by the General Assembly to support the state's fight against the opioid crisis using revenue from settlements and judgments in the Office of the Attorney General’s opioids enforcement cases.


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