Suboxone Maker To Pay Record-Breaking Opioid Drug Settlement

Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc is Britain-based multinational consumer goods company that is currently at the center of the biggest criminal and civil probe into the drug industry to date. As a matter of fact, the company has agreed to settle its current case at the price of $1.4 billion, which will resolve all US government investigation stemming from a worrisome opioid epidemic. 

In a statement made Thursday, Reckitt Benckiser denied any wrongdoing but conceded that the settlement ensures they will avoid all costs associated with ongoing investigations, litigations, and potential indictment.  Apparently, the company housed a division called Indivior, which was spun off in 2014, who makes an opioid addiction intervention drug called Suboxone Film.  

This Suboxone Film treatment dissolves under the tongue but is not necessarily better than the cheaper tablet forms. Unfortunately, the lawsuit claims that Indivior marketed the treatment as safer and less prone to abuse—as far back as 2010—which resulted in the [illegal] generation of several billion dollars in what has been called a “nationwide scheme” to sucker healthcare providers and insurers; that includes Medicaid. 

In April, then, the United States Department of Justice charged Indivior with felony fraud and conspiracy.  Indivior, of course, denies these allegations but should they be found guilty, prosecutors say they should have to forfeit at least $3 billion in penalties. 

When announcing the Reckitt Benckiser settlement, the Justice Department noted that the company describe Suboxone as a medication designed to help people who are suffering from opioid dependency. Unfortunately, United States Department of Justice Civil Division Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt argues, “Opioid withdrawal is difficult, painful, and sometimes dangerous; people struggling to overcome addiction face challenges that can often seem insurmountable. Drug manufacturers marketing products to help opioid addicts are expected to do so honestly and responsibly.”

Accordingly, she says, Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals is not acting honestly and responsibly because they are making [dishonest and irresponsible] claims about the drug’s efficacy, safety, and price. 

All this in mind, prosecutors say most of the $1.4 billion judgement will be disbursed among various federal agencies.  However, $200 million will be divvied up among the states who have signed onto the settlement deal; the money will often go to reimburse state Medicaid budgets.