Publicis Health Settles Opioid-Related Legal Dispute For $350 Million

Publicis Health has entered into a $350 million national settlement with all 50 State Attorneys General, the District of Columbia, and certain U.S. territories related to past work undertaken for opioid manufacturers primarily by former advertising agency Rosetta. 

The settlement brings to a close a legal dispute after almost three years of pre-trial maneuvering in Massachusetts and national settlement discussions.  



In May 2021, the Massachusetts Attorney General sued Publicis Health alleging it contributed to the nation’s opioid health crisis with marketing work it did for opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma. The state alleged the work included “unfair and deceptive marketing schemes,” among other charges. 

Publicis said at the time and reiterated today that it did not engage in any wrongdoing related to its work for opioid manufacturers. 

Massachusetts will receive nearly $8 million from the settlement to help address the opioid crisis. 

The settlement will fund the state’s Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund to provide support for opioid use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery. The settlement outlines the amount that the other states and territories will receive.  

As part of the settlement, Massachusetts said the company will “disclose on a public website thousands of internal documents detailing its work for opioid companies and will stop accepting client work related to opioid or other opioid-based Schedule II or Schedule III controlled substances.” 

In the legal dispute with Publicis, Massachusetts served on the executive committee of a multistate investigation, along with the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont. “They are joined in this multistate settlement by the attorneys general from all states, territories, and the District of Columbia.” 

To date, Massachusetts said it has reached legal settlements with opioid manufacturers and others that will return more than $1 billion to the state and local communities. 

“For years, Publicis Health’s marketing schemes helped fuel the nationwide opioid crisis, which has shattered some of our most vulnerable communities, while creating significant financial strain on our state systems,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell. 

Publicis Health issued the following statement:

“After three years of discussions, this settlement brings the matter to a close with a net payment of €148 million. The full settlement amount should quickly and directly contribute to the States’ opioid relief effort."  

“This settlement, in which the Attorneys General recognized Publicis Health’s ‘good faith and responsible corporate citizenship’, is in no way an admission of wrongdoing or liability. We will, if need be, defend ourselves against any litigation that this agreement does not resolve." 

“The work for pharmaceutical companies addressed by this settlement was at all times fully compliant with the law. It was undertaken primarily by Rosetta, a small agency shuttered ten years ago, that was already working with pharmaceutical clients that manufactured opioid medication when it was acquired thirteen years ago in 2011. Its work related to these products was used solely with healthcare providers, not consumers, using communication tools and language expressly approved by the FDA. Rosetta’s role was limited to performing many of the standard advertising services that agencies provide to their clients, for products that are to this day prescribed to patients, covered by major private insurers, Medicare, and authorized by State Pharmacy Boards.  

“We recognize the broader context in which that lawful work took place. The fight against the opioid crisis in the United States requires collaboration across industries, lawmakers, and communities, and we are committed to playing our part. That is why we worked to reach this agreement, and why we are also reaffirming our long-standing decision to turn down any future opioid-related projects.” 


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