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Indivior ponies up $300M to put Suboxone marketing allegations to bed

In 2020, Indivior resolved the federal government’s long-running probe into its aggressive marketing of the opioid addiction therapy Suboxone, reaching a $600 million plea deal. Now, it’s paying up. 

Indivior will shell out $300 million to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to resolve claims that it “falsely and aggressively” marketed its opioid addiction drug Suboxone, leading to misuse of state Medicaid funds, California Attorney General Rob Bonta said Wednesday.

Indivior clarified in a release Wednesday that the settlement announcement was “administrative in nature” and served to formalize the agreements it made last year. “As such, there is no new financial or legal obligation that has arisen,” the company said. 

To resolve several civil fraud claims, the drugmaker will pay $203.74 million to Medicaid and $90.68 million to cover Medicaid recovery in the states, D.C. and Puerto Rico, Bonta’s office said.

The settlement will wrap up claims that between 2010 and 2015, Indivior promoted Suboxone to doctors who were writing prescriptions that had no valid medical purpose.

It also alleges that Indivior claimed Suboxone was less prone to abuse than other products containing buprenorphine, a powerful opioid. Indivior also claimed its Suboxone film was less susceptible to accidental exposure in children than its sublingual tablet formulation.

The company also petitioned the FDA in September 2012 claiming its Suboxone tablet had been discontinued for safety reasons and attempted to “fraudulently” delay Suboxone generics to control the pricing of its drug, including in-state Medicaid programs, Bonta’s statement said.

The payout will resolve six whistleblower lawsuits against Indivior currently pending in federal courts in Virginia and New Jersey.

Last summer, the former Reckitt Benckiser subsidiary pleaded guilty to misleading Massachusetts’ Medicaid program about Suboxone’s danger to children. It agreed to pay $600 million to federal and state authorities over the next seven years, including $289 million to resolve federal and state criminal claims. Part of that criminal penalty covered an April 2019 indictment in West Virginia.

That settlement came shortly after Indivior’s former CEO Shaun Thaxter pleaded guilty to his role in the Massachusetts Medicaid scheme. In October, Thaxter was sentenced to six months in federal prison. He was also fined $100,000 and will forfeit another $500,000, according to a U.S. Department of Justice release.

Meanwhile, the DOJ hasn’t been the only one on Indivior’s case. In December, its former parent company Reckitt Benckiser, now known as RB, said it would seek $1.34 billion in damages tied to Invidior’s marketing practices. In late January, the companies settled, with Indivior agreeing to pay RB $50 million over the next five years.