AG Neronha Secures $1.5 Million Settlement in Publicis Health Case Linked to Opioid Crisis

Attorney General Peter F. Neronha has announced a groundbreaking $1.5 million settlement with global marketing and communications firm Publicis Health, bringing resolution to investigations surrounding its role in the prescription opioid crisis. This significant development is part of a larger national settlement totaling $350 million.

Attorney General Neronha has been at the forefront of efforts to hold opioid manufacturers, distributors, and consultants accountable. To date, he has successfully recovered over $330 million in cash and lifesaving medication for Rhode Island. The funds obtained through these settlements are dedicated exclusively to opioid treatment, prevention, and recovery initiatives aimed at combating the opioid epidemic.

The newly secured settlement will be channeled into Rhode Island’s Statewide Opioid Abatement Fund, overseen by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) in collaboration with the Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee. This strategic allocation ensures that the funds are directed towards addressing the ongoing impact of the opioid epidemic within the state.

Attorney General Neronha emphasized the pursuit of true justice, stating, “Publicis Health used deceptive tactics to market dangerous narcotics to the masses. While no amount of money can fully undo the harm caused to Rhode Islanders and their families, these settlements enable us to continually fund vital resources for treatment, prevention, and recovery efforts.”

The legal filing in Providence Superior Court outlines Publicis’ contribution to the crisis by assisting opioid manufacturers, including Purdue Pharma, in marketing and selling opioids. Allegedly, Publicis had a Master Services Agreement (MSA) with Purdue from 2010 to 2021, receiving over $70 million in payment. Publicis functioned as Purdue’s agency of record for all branded opioid drugs, such as OxyContin, by designing sales strategies, creating promotional content, and drafting materials for sales representatives.

One notable example of Publicis’ manipulative tactics involved using information from private conversations between patients and providers, obtained through audio recordings, to understand and counter patient hesitancy towards using opioids.

In addition to the financial settlement, the injunctive terms require Publicis to refrain from taking on clients involved in marketing, promoting, or advertising opioids or opioid-based controlled substances. Furthermore, the company is obligated to produce opioid-related documents for public disclosure, shedding light on its practices in this critical matter.




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