JEFFERSON CITY, MO. — Today, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, along with several other states, announced a multi-state settlement with pharmaceutical distributor Reckitt Benckiser for improperly marketing and otherwise promoting the drug Suboxone, resulting in improper expenditures of state Medicaid funds. Missouri’s share of the settlement is $4,354,401.58 federal and state combined with $1,458,823.01 directly to the State.
“The Missouri Attorney General’s Office’s robust Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is continually working, with its state and federal partners, to hold those who use the Medicaid system for unlawful personal gain or otherwise illegal purposes accountable for their actions,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “This multi-state settlement is a great result that should remind companies and providers that we will take swift and decisive action if you use the Medicaid system to defraud Missourians.”
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.
Reckitt is an English public limited company headquartered in Slough, England, 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. In December 2014, Reckitt spun off Indivior Inc. The settlement described in this statement is with Reckitt, alone. Reckitt has paid a total of Seven Hundred Million Dollars ($700,000,000.00) to resolve various civil fraud allegations impacting Medicaid and other government healthcare programs, of which over Four Hundred Million Dollars ($400,000,000.00) will go to the Medicaid programs.
The civil settlement resolves allegations that, from 2010 through 2014, Reckitt, directly or through its subsidiaries, knowingly: (a) promoted the sale and use of Suboxone to physicians who were writing prescriptions (1) to patients without any counseling or psychosocial support, such that the prescriptions were not for a medically accepted indication and (2) for uses that were unsafe, ineffective, and medically unnecessary and that were often diverted for uses that lacked a legitimate medical purpose; (b) promoted the sale or use of Suboxone Sublingual Film based on false and misleading claims that Suboxone Sublingual Film was less subject to diversion and abuse than other buprenorphine products and that Suboxone Sublingual Film was less susceptible to accidental pediatric exposure than Suboxone Sublingual Tablets; (c) submitted a petition to the Food and Drug Administration on September 25, 2012, fraudulently claiming that it had discontinued manufacturing and selling Suboxone Sublingual Tablet “due to safety concerns” about the tablet formulation of the drug; and (d) took other steps to fraudulently delay the entry of generic competition for various forms of Suboxone in order to improperly control pricing of Suboxone, including pricing to federal healthcare programs.
The civil settlement resolves the claims against Reckitt brought in six qui tam lawsuits pending in federal courts in the Western District of Virginia and the District of New Jersey.
A National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units (“NAMFCU”) Team participated in the investigation and in settlement negotiations. The Team included representatives from the Offices of the Attorneys General for the states of California, Indiana, New York, Ohio, Virginia, and Washington.