PHOENIX – Attorney General Mayes today announced that marketing firm Publicis Health will pay Arizona approximately $8 million for the firm’s role in fueling the opioid epidemic. To date, the Arizona Attorney General's Office has recovered over $1.1 billion to combat the fentanyl and 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 other Schedule III controlled substances.
“This settlement marks another step in our efforts at holding accountable those who have contributed to Arizona’s opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Mayes. “While settlement dollars cannot reverse the harm caused to so many Arizonans and their families, they will help substantially in our state’s ongoing prevention and recovery efforts.”
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 Arizona Department of Health Services, nearly 11,000 have died from an opioid overdose since 2017. 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 Mayes has taken to combat the opioid crisis. In recent weeks, Attorney General Mayes has announced a major fentanyl seizure and a PSA contest aimed at increasing awareness of the dangers of fentanyl among young adults.