Attorney General Bonta Announces $350 Million Settlement with Multinational Marketing Firm Publicis Health for its Role in Fueling the Opioid Crisis

Thursday, February 1, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Today’s commitment by Publicis is an important milestone in California’s efforts to address this crisis

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced a $350 million national settlement with Publicis Health, LLC, to resolve investigations into the global marketing and communications firm’s role in the prescription opioid crisis. California will receive approximately $31 million from the settlement to help address this crisis. The settlement money is anticipated to be paid in the second quarter of 2024. 

“No settlement can bring back the lives lost or reverse the devastating pain caused by the opioid crisis. At the California Department of Justice, we are committed to holding accountable those who fueled this crisis through their greed and willful misconduct,” said Attorney General Bonta.  “Today’s settlement with Publicis builds on that commitment in our continued fight for justice and relief for Californians. I am proud of the work put in by my team and by our partners across the nation in making this settlement possible.”

The settlement will give communities 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 Schedule III controlled substances. 

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.

Since the first wave of the opioid epidemic hit the United States in 2000, it has taken hundreds of thousands of lives, torn families apart, and eroded the social fabric of communities. Its toll has continued to grow year after year. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that in 2021, more than 80,000 people may have died of overdose deaths involving opioids in the U.S., and over 11,200 of those deaths took place in California.

To date, the California Department of Justice has secured nearly $50 billion in nationwide settlements and bankruptcies, including with opioid manufacturers Johnson & Johnson, Mallinckrodt, Allergan, and Teva; distributors Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen; pharmacies CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart; and consulting firm McKinsey & Company. 

  • In June of 2023, Attorney General Bonta announced four multi-billion opioid settlements worth up to $17.3 billion with pharmacies CVS and Walgreens and manufacturers Allergan and Teva.  
  • In November of 2022, Attorney General Bonta announced a $3.1 billion settlement with Walmart to resolve allegations that the company helped fuel the opioid crisis by failing to appropriately oversee the dispensing of opioids at its pharmacies.
  • In July 2021, Attorney General Bonta announced a $26 billion settlement, which was finalized in Spring 2022, with Johnson & Johnson, which manufactured and marketed opioids, and Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen, the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors. It was the second largest multistate agreement in U.S. history, and its terms bar Johnson & Johnson from being involved in selling or promoting opioids for a decade and require the distributors to monitor, report, and share data about suspicious activity related to opioid sales.
  • In February of 2021, the Attorney General announced a $573 million settlement with one of the world’s largest consulting firms, McKinsey & Company. The settlement resolves California’s investigation into the company’s role in advising opioid companies (including OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma) in the promotion and sale of their drugs.

The states’ investigation was led by an executive committee made up of the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, and Vermont. They are joined by the attorneys general from all other states, territories, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the document is available here.  

# # #