Advertising agencies have been taken to court on many occasions for what others claim are their roles in the problems in this world, such as when Juul was sued by multiple states for its contribution to e-cigarette addiction, dismissal of health concerns, and advertising toward minors. (You can read more on it on the factsheet: JUUL Settlement in Wisconsin.) Now, an agency has recently come to a settlement for its actions in the opioid crisis.
Publicis Health – a part of Publicis Groupe – was brought before the New York Supreme Court due to its workings with Purdue Pharma in advertising prescription opioids. These medications include OxyContin, Butrans, and Hysingla. Attorney generals around the country gathered together to take this company to court, stating that Publicis Health engaged in “predatory and deceptive marketing strategies.” The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James released a statement on the judgment. The office stated that the claim against the company was that Publicis Health “was responsible for creating advertisements and materials…that promoted OxyContin as safe and unable to be abused” through marketing efforts with Purdue Pharma between 2010 and 2019. Additionally, the ‘Evolve to Excellence’ campaign that was carried out by Publicis Health has been placed front and center. According to the attorney general, the campaign “targeted the doctors who prescribed the most OxyContin and flooded them with sales calls and marketing.”
“No amount of money can compensate for lives lost and addiction suffered, but with this agreement, Publicis will cease their illegal behavior and pay $350 million to help our communities rebuild,” the New York Attorney General’s office states on its website. In addition to the monetary settlement that must be paid within 60 days of the agreement, Publicis is required to release internal documents of its dealings with Purdue and is prevented from future business ventures with opioid products. The company continues to deny any wrongdoing or legal violation in this matter.