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Reckitt Benckiser Sues Indivior to Reclaim Settlement Funds

— December 15, 2020

RB filed lawsuit against Indivior to reclaim its losses after settling Suboxone cases.

Indivior is being hit with a lawsuit from its former owner Reckitt Benckiser (RB) seeking $1.34 billion in damages for the company’s deceptive marketing of the opioid addiction therapy Suboxone Film.  To date, one Indivior executive is already behind bars and the company has dished out billions of dollars in settlement funds.  In October, one-time Indivior CEO Shaun Thaxter was sentenced to six months in federal prison after pleading guilty to his role in obtaining Medicaid formulary coverage for Suboxone with misleading statements.

FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. said at the time, “Opioid addiction and abuse is an immense public health crisis and taking steps to address it is one of the FDA’s highest priorities.  Providing misleading information about relative product benefits could undermine efforts to provide affordable treatment to those suffering from this crisis.  We will continue to work with the Department of Justice to investigate and hold accountable those who devise and participate in schemes to the detriment of the public health.”

“The public must be able to trust pharmaceutical manufacturers and their executives – particularly when they are marketing powerful opioids,” added First Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel P. Bubar of the Western District of Virginia.  “While he was the top executive of Indivior, Shaun Thaxter violated that trust, and must be held accountable.”

Reckitt Benckiser Sues Indivior to Reclaim Settlement Funds
Photo by Brusk Dede on Unsplash

Thaxter was fined $100,000 and will relinquish control of nearly $500,000 more.  He stepped down in June, one day before he pleaded guilty.  The former executive was replaced by Mark Crossley, who has worked at the company since 2017.

“In July, Indivior agreed to pay $600 million to federal and state authorities over the next seven years after pleading guilty to misleading the Massachusetts Medicaid program about Suboxone’s danger to children,” the Department of Justice said.  The indictment continued, Indivior “promoted the film version of Suboxone (Suboxone Film) to physicians, pharmacists, Medicaid administrators, and others across the country as less-divertible and less-abusable and safer around children, families, and communities than other buprenorphine drugs, even though such claims have never been established.  Indivior touted its ‘Here to Help’ internet and telephone program as a resource for opioid-addicted patients.  Instead, however, Indivior used the program, in part, to connect patients to doctors it knew were prescribing Suboxone…To further its scheme, Indivior announced a ‘discontinuance’ of its tablet form of Suboxone based on supposed ‘concerns regarding pediatric exposure’ to tablets, despite Indivior executives’ knowledge that the primary reason for the discontinuance was to delay the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of generic tablet forms of the drug.”

Now, in late November, Reckitt Benckiser has filed its suit in a U.K. high court in an attempt to reclaim funds from Indivior, which it owned until 2014.  The damages sought are intended to cover the $1.4 billion settlement RB signed in July 2019 to settle the DOJ’s claims.  Back in 2019, RB agreed to settle with New York’s attorney general and five other states who had brought forth litigation for its role in the crisis.

At the time RB settled its case, it did not admit to any wrongdoing.  Indivior has called the latest case  “without merit” and said it intends to defend itself “vigorously.”


Indivior faces lawsuit from ex-parent company RB over Suboxone marketing scheme

Opioid Manufacturer Indivior’s Chief Executive Officer Pleads Guilty In Connection With Drug Safety Claims

Justice Department Obtains $1.4 Billion from Reckitt Benckiser Group in Largest Recovery in a Case Concerning an Opioid Drug in United States History

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