French firm to pay Iowa $2.5 million as part of national opioid settlement

DES MOINES — An ad agency that promoted sales of OxyContin has agreed to pay Iowa over $2.5 million to address the opioid crisis. 

Publicis – which is part of a French media company – has agreed to pay a national settlement of $350 million. State prosecutors accused the marketing agency of downplaying the risks and addictive nature of OxyContin and other opioids.

Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird says the company’s actions were flat wrong and the settlement secures critical funding for opioid treatment and prevention efforts to save lives across Iowa. Publicis worked with Purdue Pharma from 2010 and 2019 and state prosecutors accused the firm of contacting doctors who had the highest volume of OxyContin prescriptions and encouraging them to increase the dosages for patients. 

A statement from the company said the settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing. The marketing firm has agreed to give state prosecutors internal documents showing how it marketed opioids.