Suboxone Manufacturer Pays
1.4 Billion-dollar Settlement
In the largest settlement related to the opioid epidemic in US history, the British company Reckitt Benckiser Group (creators of suboxone) are paying $1.4 billion to end investigations into their company. The company, while asserting they always acted lawfully, has been accused of using illegal marketing strategies, misleading the public, and defrauding Medicaid. On top of this, they allegedly delayed the release of generic tablet versions of the drug by making unsubstantiated claims. Currently, Indivior manufactures Suboxone, however, Reckitt Benckiser was their parent company and while they split in 2014, Reckitt Benckiser was under criminal investigation regarding actions taken before the split.
Let’s try to make sense of everything going on in this case. First things first. The full penalty Reckitt Benckiser has agreed to is $1.4 billion broken into several payments to cover the different areas in which they may have caused damage. Along with this, Reckitt Benckiser has agreed to not sell any schedule I, II, or III drugs in the US for the next three years and agree to cooperate with any further investigations regarding suboxone.
The $1.4 billion will be broken down into the following payouts:
- $700 million in civil settlements to the federal government and six states
- $50 million to the Federal Trade Commission
- They also agreed to forfeit $647 million in proceeds received from Indivior.
This settlement was reached to avoid prosecution.
This is the statement the company released:
“While RB acted lawfully at all times and expressly denies all allegations that it has engaged in any wrongful conduct, after careful consideration, the board of RB determined that the agreement is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders,”
While their subsidiary company Indivior has denied charges of “allegedly engaging in an illicit nationwide scheme to increase prescriptions of Suboxone,” according to the DOJ, they have been indicted by a grand jury in Virginia and are scheduled to stand trial in 2020. We will have to wait and see what happens to Indivior as the trial develops.
However, we do have a more in-depth look at what this whole settlement and case centers around when it comes to Reckitt Benckiser. Now, remember when I said the company made claims to delay the release of generic forms of the drug? According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Reckitt Benckiser Group announced they were pulling the tablet forms of suboxone due to concerns about pediatric exposure. The DOJ is claiming this was done to unethically prolong the Food and Drug Administration’s green-lighting of generic forms of the tablets so that Reckitt Benckiser could hold onto their upper hand in the market.
There are two more things they are accused of in this case. One of which is marketing the strips as less addictive than they actually are. The last charge is that they used an online “help center” to specifically funnel patients to doctors who had been known to overprescribe medications in order to boost their sales.
Reckitt Benckiser, to some degree, has had to pay for their atrocities. Only time will tell how this will play out for Indivior….. so stay tuned.