Massachusetts is expected to receive an additional $8 million settlement payout from lawsuits over the opioid epidemic.
State Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell said the funds are part of a $350 million national settlement with Publicis Health, a marketing and communications firm that worked for opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma. Campbell said the settlement would resolve the state's litigation against the company.
Massachusetts' complaint against Publicis Health, a subsidiary of global advertising conglomerate Publicis Groupe, alleged the company was paid more than $50 million to market the addictive medication and to persuade doctors to prescribe Purdue’s opioids to more patients and in higher doses. The suit also accused the company of marketing Purdue's OxyContin to providers through patients’ electronic health records.
“For years, Publicis Health’s marketing schemes helped fuel the nationwide opioid crisis," Campbell said in a press release, "which has shattered some of our most vulnerable communities, while creating significant financial strain on our state systems."
The settlement will fund the state’s Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund to provide support for opioid use disorder prevention, treatment, recovery and harm reduction efforts throughout Massachusetts.
As part of the settlement, the company will disclose on a public website thousands of internal documents detailing its work for opioid companies and will stop accepting client work related to opioids or other opioid-based Schedule II or Schedule III controlled substances.
Campbell's office also announced a multi-state settlement with London-based opioid manufacturer Hikma Pharmaceuticals for its role in the opioid epidemic. That settlement will resolve claims alleging Hikma failed to monitor and report suspicious opioid orders from potentially illegal distributors, and that the company knew its monitoring systems were inadequate.
Under that settlement, Hikma will pay $150 million to participating states and local communities: $115 million in cash and $35 million worth of opioid addiction treatment medication.
Massachusetts earlier reached legal settlements with opioid manufacturers and others that will return more than $1 billion to the state and local communities over the next 17 years.
More than 20,000 Massachusetts residents have died from opioid-related overdoses in the past 20 years, Campbell said.