Publicis Health, a subsidiary of Publicis Groupe, and drug maker Hikma Pharmaceuticals have struck separate settlements totalling $500m to settle allegations that they contributed to the US opioid epidemic.

These agreements, which were announced by US state attorneys general, add to over $50bn that the drug manufacturers, distributors, pharmacy operators, and consultants have already agreed to pay, reported Reuters.

These settlements are intended to resolve lawsuits and investigations about these companies’ roles in the drug addiction issue.

Publicis Health has agreed to pay $350m to settle allegations made by all states and territories in the US.

These states claimed that the ad firm assisted Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, in developing marketing plans to increase sales of the prescription opioid painkiller.

Massachusetts sued Publicis in 2021 and alleged that the French firm has received more than $50m to assist Purdue in getting doctors to prescribe its opioids to more patients, for longer durations, and at larger dosages.

According to Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell, the settlement will strengthen accountability and transparency for this ongoing crisis. It will also provide $8m that will be used to fund treatment and services.

However, Publicis refuted any misconduct and referred to the Massachusetts lawsuit as an unparalleled attempt to sue an advertising agency for a product’s marketing by a manufacturer.

Separately, London-listed Hikma agreed to pay up to $150m to address its role in the opioid epidemic.

The firm produces several branded and generic opioid products and markets large numbers of opioid doses annually.

As part of the announcement, the drug maker will pay $115m in cash and $35m worth of the opioid addiction treatment medication naloxone. The claims were made by states and local communities against the company.

The generic medicines developer failed to monitor and report suspicious orders of opioids from potentially illegal distributors from 2006 to 2021.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said: “The opioid epidemic has shattered communities across this country, and Hikma Pharmaceuticals bears responsibility for the grief and loss caused by this crisis.

“Although no amount of money could ever undo the pain that has been deeply felt by countless families impacted by this epidemic, today’s announcement is an important step that will help bring recovery to California.”