Yost announces settlement with Suboxone manufacturer
Published 12:00 am Friday, June 9, 2023
Company agrees to pay $102.5 million fine
COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and 41 of his counterparts today announced a $102.5 million multistate settlement with the maker of Suboxone – Indivior Inc. – for violations of state and federal antitrust laws.
Ohio will receive about $5.9 million.
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“My office has the pharmaceutical industry under a microscope,” Yost said. “From drug manufacturers to PBMs to distributors – we’re keeping a close eye on everyone involved.”
Suboxone, a prescription drug that originated as a tablet, is used to treat opioid addiction by easing cravings for opioids.
It was introduced in 2002 by Indivior, formally known as Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, and patent-protected for seven years (2002 to 2009).
The coalition of attorneys general sued the company accusing Indivior of having schemed to block generic competitors from the market after the patented-protected period, thus artificially elevating the drug’s costs to consumers.
The lawsuit says Indivior engaged in illegal “product hopping,” meaning it made modest changes to its product in order to extend the patent protections so other companies couldn’t offer cheaper generic alternatives.
The company transitioned Suboxone from a tablet to a film (which dissolves in the mouth), and then actively attempted to destroy the market for tablets through marketing and price adjustments, the lawsuit maintains.
These kinds of tactics allowed for Indivior to extend the patent protections, and the company eventually stopped selling tablets, forcing consumers to buy the more expensive film form of the drug.
The suit cites violations of the Sherman Act and Ohio’s Valentine Act, saying that Indivior engaged in anti-competitive activities designed to impede competition from generic equivalents of Suboxone.
The settlement agreement, filed in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, requires Indivior to pay the states $102.5 million. The case had been scheduled to go to trial in September 2023.
Also under the agreement, Indivior must disclose to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and to the attorneys general any:
• Citizen petition that it files.
• Product modifications.
• Change in corporate control.
These conditions are designed to keep the attorneys general apprised of the company’s activities and to ensure that Indivior refrains from engaging in conduct similar to the allegations in the lawsuit.
The multistate case was led by Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul. Joining Yost and Kaul in the suit were the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.