FEB 02, 2024

Attorney General Alan Wilson announces $350 million settlement with multinational marketing firm Publicis over role in opioid epidemic

(COLUMBIA, S.C.) – Attorney General Alan Wilson 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. South Carolina will receive over $5 million from the settlement to help address the opioid crisis.

In agreeing to the terms of the settlement, Publicis recognized the harm its conduct caused, and the agreement will give communities hit hardest by the opioid crisis more financial support for treatment and recovery, building lasting infrastructure, and saving lives. 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.

“The opioid epidemic is a complex system that is not isolated to a single company and even expands past simply the companies that manufacture and distribute the drugs,” Attorney General Wilson said. “Our investigation affirmed the same – that the prolific spread of opioids is connected to how these drugs were marketed to doctors without regard for the wellbeing of South Carolinians.”

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.

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), between 2017 and 2021, there were over 5,500 opioid overdose deaths in South Carolina – increasing year over year. 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 impacts of opioid addiction, substance use, and overdose deaths have torn families apart, damaged relationships, and devastated communities.

Today’s filing is the latest action Attorney General Wilson has taken to combat the opioid crisis and to hold accountable those responsible for creating and fueling the crisis. To date, South Carolina’s potential total recoveries from opioids cases is more than $646 million.

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.

Back to News

Media Contact

For media inquiries please contact Robert Kittle, [email protected] or 803-734-3670

Media Contact