Suboxone Manufacturer Fined $1.4 Billion Over Illegal Marketing

Reckitt Benckiser, now known as Indivior, will pay the U.S. government a record settlement fee of $1.4 billion to resolve multiple investigations related to the marketing of Suboxone, an opioid addiction treatment.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) alleged that Indivior illegally marketed Suboxone to both patients and physicians. This was exemplified by Indivior’s marketing of sublingual Suboxone (Suboxone Film, which combines buprenorphine and naloxone) to medical professionals as a safer and less addictive substance compared to similar drugs containing buprenorphine.

Another charge brought by the DOJ alleged that the company’s “Here to Help” program, which was meant to be used as a resource for opioid-addicted patients, was actually used to connect patients with doctors who were known to prescribe suboxone “to more patients than allowed by federal law, at high doses, and in a careless and clinically unwarranted manner,” according to the DOJ statement.

As part of the settlement, Indivior’s former parent company, Reckitt Benckiser, will avoid prosecution by forfeiting $647 million of proceeds it received from Indivior. It also agreed to not manufacture, market, or sell Schedule I, II, or III controlled substances in the U.S. for three years and to cooperate with future investigations related to Suboxone. Additionally, Reckitt Benckiser will pay $700 million in civil settlements to the federal government and six states, as well as $50 million to the Federal Trade Commission.

The non-prosecution agreement only applies to Reckitt Benckiser, not its parent company Indivior. The trial for Indivior is scheduled to begin in May 2020.

Sources: ABC News, July 12, 2019.