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Tennessee Announces $350 Million Opioid Settlement with Marketing Firm Publicis

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti 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. Tennessee will receive more than $9 million from the settlement, which will be deposited into Tennessee’s Opioid Abatement Fund to help address the opioid crisis.

“The opioid crisis has devastated families and communities across Tennessee, and we will continue to work hard to hold accountable those companies most responsible,” Attorney General Skrmetti said in a statement. “The money we get from these companies will never be enough to make right the damage they have done, but we will continue to work with the Governor, the General Assembly, and the Opioid Abatement Council to ensure that these resources go toward fighting the opioid epidemic.”

Today’s filing is the latest action General Skrmetti has taken to combat the opioid crisis and to hold accountable those responsible for creating and fueling the crisis. To date, Tennessee has reached legal settlements totaling more than $1 billion with drug manufacturers and others for their roles in the crisis. A vast majority of these funds have been paid to the state’s Opioid Abatement Fund and dedicated to remediating the opioid crisis.

Thousands of Tennesseans die each year from prescription opioid overdoses. 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 of opioid addiction, substance use, and overdose deaths has torn families apart, damaged relationships, and devastated communities.

In agreeing to the terms of this 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 stop accepting client work related to opioid-based Schedule II or Schedule III controlled substances.

Today’s filings in Knox County Circuit Court 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, and assisted in the deceptive promotion of these drugs.

The settlement agreement with Publicis was negotiated by an executive committee consisting of Tennessee, Colorado, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, and Vermont. They are joined in the agreement by the attorneys general from all states, territories, and the District of Columbia.