Opioid Maker Agrees To $1.4 Billion Settlement

Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB Group) has reached a $1.4 billion settlement with the U.S. government to end criminal and civil investigations into the marketing of its Suboxone addiction treatment medication. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said the settlement will cover multiple investigations into the company’s subsidiary, Indivior (formerly known as Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc.). Indivior was spun off into a separate company from the RB Group in December 2014.

As part of the non-prosecution agreement, Invidior’s former parent company agreed to forfeit $647 million of proceeds received from Indivior. The company also agreed to pay $700 million in civil settlements to the federal government and six states and pay $50 million to the Federal Trade Commission. It further agreed to cooperate with future investigations related to Suboxone and to not manufacture, market, or sell Schedule I, II, or III controlled substances in the U.S. for three years.

Despite the settlement, Britain-based RB Group is denying any wrongdoing. Its statement said, “While RB acted lawfully at all times and expressly denies all allegations that it has engaged in any wrongful conduct, after careful consideration, the board of RB determined that the agreement is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders.” It continued on to say that the settlement deal “avoids the costs, uncertainty and distraction associated with continued investigations, litigation and the potential for an indictment.” The settlement was only with RB Group, and not Indivior.

On April 9, a federal grand jury in Virginia indicted Indivior with felony fraud and conspiracy for allegedly falsely marketing its Suboxone Film strips. Federal prosecutors said that starting in 2010, Indivior marketed the drug to medical professionals as being less addictive and safer than other drugs containing its active ingredient buprenorphine, which is an opioid. Indivior has denied the charges and a trial over the matter is scheduled to start in May 2020.