Montana to receive $1 million from opioid settlement with multinational marketing firm
HELENA – Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen announced today that Montana will receive over $1 million in a national settlement with Publicis Health to resolve investigations into the global marketing and communications firm’s role in the prescription 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. Montana will receive $1,072,040 of the total $350 million national settlement. 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 has killed hundreds of Montanans and left thousands more to battle addiction, which is why my administration has made it a priority to address the problem and hold those responsible for this crisis accountable,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “The money we secured in this settlement will help provide treatment and save lives.”
Publicis’ work contributed to the crisis by helping Purdue Pharma and other opioid manufacturers market and sell opioids. According to court documents, Publicis acted as Purdue Pharma’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.
The opioid epidemic has led to hundreds of prescription overdose deaths in Montana over the last 20 years. These deaths—and the impacts on thousands of Montanans 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.
Since taking office, Attorney General Knudsen has been taking action to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for fueling the opioid crisis that is wreaking havoc on Montana communities. In 2022, he announced an $80 million settlement for Montana from the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors holding them accountable for their roles in fueling the national opioid epidemic. In 2021, Montana received $1.9 million from a settlement with McKinsey & Company, one of the world’s largest consulting firms, regarding the company’s role in working for opioid companies, helping those companies promote their drugs, and profiting from the opioid epidemic.