Massachusetts state attorney Maura Healey has sued Publicis Health, a subsidiary of Publicis Groupe SA, over allegations of deceptive marketing.
Healey argued that Publicis Health used unfair, deceptive marketing tactics to sell a powerful, addictive prescription painkiller called OxyContin on behalf of Purdue Pharma.
According to the suit, “dangerous opioid drugs continue to kill hundreds of people across Massachusetts every year. Since 2010, opioid-related overdoses have killed more than 15,000 of our loved ones, neighbours, colleagues and friends…the marketing giant known as Publicis helped to create this opioid crisis.”
The suit also alleged that, between 2010 and 2019, Publicis worked with opioid companies, most notably Purdue Pharma, to increase sales of drugs like Oxycotin.
The alleged unfair and deceptive campaigns were designed to “push doctors to more patients, in higher doses, and for longer period of time.”
“Publicis helped create a public nuisance of opioid use disorder, overdose, and death in Massachusetts. By design, Publicis’s schemes worked to counter public health measures intended to reduce unnecessary opioid use, because more opioid use generated more profits for Publicis’s opioid clients.”
The lawsuit asks for compensatory damages as well civil penalties.
Publicic Health said in a statement that “the Massachusetts Attorney General’s complaint cherry picks unrelated statements made over the course of a multiyear engagement.”
They also said that “Publicis Health acted solely as an advertising agency.”
Purdue Pharma filed for bankruptcy in 2019. It faced thousands of injury claims related to its role in the opioid epidemic.
Featured Image: iStock/Pureradiancephoto
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