Delaware to receive $1.3 million in settlement with Suboxone pharma distributor

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Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings announced that Delaware and other states have reached an agreement with pharmaceutical distributor Reckitt Benckiser Group (“Reckitt”) to settle allegations that the company, either directly or through a subsidiary, improperly marketed and otherwise promoted the drug Suboxone, resulting in improper expenditures of state Medicaid funds.

Suboxone is a drug product approved for use by recovering opioid addicts to avoid or reduce withdrawal symptoms while they undergo treatment. Suboxone and its active ingredient, buprenorphine, are powerful and addictive opioids.

“I’m grateful for the work that our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit does each day to protect consumers and ensure good stewardship of our tax dollars,” said Attorney General Jennings. “The opioid crisis has been one of the deadliest epidemics in Delaware history, and the challenges of recovery cannot be overstated. Appropriate medication can be a vital resource for people facing the considerable challenges of recovery, and we expect companies selling that medication to be fair and honest with consumers and Medicaid alike.”

Reckitt is an English public limited company headquartered in the United Kingdom. Until December 23, 2014, Reckitt’s wholly owned subsidiary Indivior Inc. (then known as Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) distributed, marketed, and sold Suboxone Sublingual Tablets and Suboxone Sublingual Film in the United States.

The lawsuit alleged that the company promoted the sale and use of Suboxone to physicians who were writing prescriptions for patients without any counseling or psychosocial support, for uses that were unsafe, ineffective, and medically unnecessary.

These practices allegedly made Suboxone susceptible to diversion for uses that lacked a legitimate medical purpose. The company misleadingly claimed that Suboxone Sublingual Film was less susceptible to diversion and abuse than other buprenorphine products, and that Suboxone Sublingual Film was less susceptible to accidental pediatric exposure than Suboxone Sublingual Tablets, according to the lawsuit.

Reckitt has agreed to pay a total of $700 million to resolve various civil fraud allegations impacting government health care programs, with $3.08 million going to Medicaid. Delaware’s share of $1.3 million will go to the Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance within the Department of Health and Social Services.