During the second week of July of this year, British big pharma company Indivior Inc. paid $1.4 billion to settle a U.S. federal investigation that involved fraud sales of the opioid medication, Suboxone. This is the largest settlement in the drug industry to date.
Indivior, formally known as Reckitt Benckiser, allegedly marketed their product Suboxone Film—which is an opioid-addiction medication that dissolves under the tongue— as a safer alternative compared to pills, as well as being less susceptible to abuse. In April of this year a federal grand jury in Abingdon, Virginia, indicted Indivior with fraudulent marketing, claiming that the company lied to doctors and public heath care programs in order to promote sales of their drug. The prosecutors charged Indivior for an “illicit scheme to increase prescriptions of Suboxone film.”
Indivior accumulated billions of revenue by deceiving health care providers and patients into believing Suboxone was less abusable than other opioid-addiction treatment drugs—the company even went as far as to create a program called “Here to Help” to connect patients of opioid addiction to doctors who would prescribe Suboxone. It is further alleged that the company was directing these patients to doctors that they knew prescribed opioids at a high and clinically unwarranted rate.
Of course, Indivior denies all allegations of any criminal activity, and when agreeing to the $1.4 billion settlement has stated that no violation of law had taken place in the company or by any company employee. $200 million of the settlement will be reimbursed to Medicaid budgets for the states involved in the lawsuit, while the remainder of the money will most likely go to federal agencies. This is only one settlement the company has made, as it faces more lawsuits from various states’ attorney generals.
The Justice Department points out that the prosecution team of Virginia is part of a “coordinated effort by the Department’s Prescription Interdiction & Litigation (PIL) Task Force to deploy all available criminal, civil, and regulatory tools to hold opioid manufacturers accountable for unlawful practices and to ensure that prescription opioid products are marketed truthfully.”
To read the details of the prosecution in April see the following: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/indivior-inc-indicted-fraudulently-marketing-prescription-opioid.