For the first time, an advertising firm that worked on Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin account has settled a lawsuit accusing it of deceptively promoting opioids as safe.
According to New York Attorney General Letitia James, Publicis, a French marketing corporation, has agreed to pay $350 million within the next two months and will no longer accept opioid clients. She and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser oversaw the settlement negotiations, which included representatives from eight other states.
What is the amount of the first opioid marketing settlement that an OxyContin advertiser will pay?
“For a decade, Publicis helped opioid manufacturers like Purdue Pharma convince doctors to overprescribe opioids, directly fueling the opioid crisis and causing the devastation of communities nationwide,” James said in a statement. “No amount of money can compensate for lives lost and addiction suffered, but with this agreement, Publicis will cease their illegal behavior.”
From 2010 until 2019, Publicis collaborated with McKinsey to create Purdue’s “Evolve to Excellence” campaign, which targeted doctors who prescribed OxyContin the most. McKinsey will pay $573 million to governments as part of various settlements in 2021 for its alleged role in the opioid crisis.
According to James, the “Evolve to Excellence” marketing plan bombarded doctors with messages falsely claiming OxyContin prevented addiction and abuse and pressured physicians to increase patients’ doses even when it was not medically necessary. Publicis was responsible for the campaign’s advertisements, leaflets, and brochures.
In a statement, the business maintained it did not concede wrongdoing and defended its activities as legal, a claim James denies. However, the business expressed hope that the contribution would benefit the fight against opioid addiction.
“We acknowledge the larger context in which that lawful work occurred,” Publicis stated in a statement. “The fight against the opioid crisis in the United States necessitates collaboration among sectors, governments, and communities, and we are determined to contribute. That is why we fought to establish this agreement, and we are also reaffirming our long-standing decision to reject any new opioid-related initiatives.
According to the corporation, the subsidiary that completed the work for Purdue, Rosetta, has been closed for a decade.
Purdue Pharma first made the opioid medication OxyContin available in the 1990s and marketed it as non-addictive. The corporation has been accused of contributing to the opioid epidemic in the United States, which is seen as a major public health emergency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 564,000 people died as a result of opioid overdoses between 1999 and 2020.
In March 2023, the Sackler family, who controlled Purdue, agreed to a bankruptcy settlement that would require the family to pay up between $5.5 billion and $6 billion over 18 years to combat the current opioid epidemic. The vast majority of the funds would be distributed to states, local governments, and Native American tribes.
However, the Biden administration filed a lawsuit to halt the contract, describing it as an “unprecedented” arrangement that would eventually provide the Sackler family with wide immunity from opioid-related civil claims. The Supreme Court suspended Purdue Pharma’s bankruptcy procedures in August 2023, and the case was heard in December during acrimonious oral arguments.
What other firms have been involved with opioid marketing?
Other businesses active in opioid marketing include BioDelivery Sciences International and Purdue Pharma. These corporations have been named in federal, state, and local lawsuits for allegedly engaging in unlawful opioid marketing. Purdue Pharma, in particular, is recognized for its involvement in aggressive and fraudulent marketing of opioids, such as OxyContin.
What are some alternatives to opioids for pain management?
Non-opioid pain relievers include acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin, anesthetics, and high-tech treatments that use radio waves and electrical signals. Non-medication treatments include acupuncture, cold and heat therapy, exercise, massages, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. Furthermore, non-opioid pain therapy may include injections or nerve blocks, as well as high-tech solutions. It is critical to discuss all choices with a healthcare professional in order to build a comprehensive treatment plan that treats pain utilizing different modalities, including prescription medicine, self-care, and therapy.
The FDA has also taken steps to stimulate the development of non-addictive alternatives to opioids for acute pain management, emphasizing the significance of preventing new addictions by developing novel non-opioid analgesics.
What are the hazards related to non-opioid pain management alternatives?
The hazards connected with non-opioid pain management options differ depending on the treatment. Here are some broad hazards and considerations for non-opioid pain treatment alternatives:
- Medication Risks: Non-opioid medications, including NSAIDs and acetaminophen, can be associated with adverse effects such as gastrointestinal disorders, kidney problems, and liver damage, especially when used long-term or at high doses.
- High-Tech Treatments: High-tech treatments involving radio waves and electrical impulses may pose dangers such as skin burns, allergic responses to materials used in the therapy, or poor pain management for some people.
- Non-Drug Therapies: Non-drug therapies like massage and acupuncture may have varying degrees of effectiveness and pose risks like discomfort, bruising, or infection at the treatment site if not carried out by qualified professionals.
- Lack of Evidence: Some non-opioid alternatives, such as marijuana and cannabinoids, may lack extensive study on their long-term safety and efficacy for pain management.
Individuals should examine the potential risks and advantages of non-opioid pain management alternatives with their healthcare provider in order to make informed decisions about their pain treatment plans.
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