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Attorney General Josh Stein Announces $700 Million Settlement with Pharmaceutical Distributor

For Immediate Release:
Friday, October 25, 2019

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today announced a $700 million settlement with UK-based pharmaceutical distributor Reckitt Benckiser Group, $14,840,054.06 of which will go to North Carolina. The settlement resolves allegations that the company and its U.S. subsidiary Indivior Inc. improperly marketed and promoted the drug Suboxone, misusing Medicaid funds in the process. Suboxone, whose active ingredient is buprenorphine, is a drug approved to help people undergoing treatment to recover from opioid addiction avoid or reduce withdrawal symptoms.

“The opioid epidemic has devastated North Carolinians,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “We should be doing everything in our power to get these needed treatment medications to the people who need it. Instead? This company made false claims and cheated taxpayers. My office will hold accountable anyone who commits fraud.”

The settlement, with all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, resolves claims against Reckitt in six federal lawsuits over a series of allegations about Reckitt and Indivior’s actions from 2010 through 2014. These allegations include that the companies:

  • Promoted the sale and use of Suboxone to health care providers who were writing prescriptions for it.
  • Promoted the sale and use of Suboxone to patients without the necessary counseling and psychosocial support or for uses that were unsafe, ineffective, and medically unnecessary.
  • Promoted the sale and use of Suboxone sublingual film based on false and misleading claims that the film was less susceptible to diversion and abuse and accidental pediatric exposure than the sublingual tablet form of the product.
  • Submitted a petition to the Food and Drug Administration fraudulently claiming that it had discontinued manufacturing and selling the Suboxone sublingual tablet.
  • Took steps to fraudulently delay the entry of generic competition for Suboxone to control pricing and increase profits.

Reckitt has entered into a separate non-prosecution agreement to resolve its potential criminal liability stemming from conduct alleged in the indictment of Indivior.

A National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units team participated in the investigation and in settlement negotiations on behalf of the states. The North Carolina settlement agreement was reached by the Medicaid Investigations Division of the North Carolina Department of Justice and the North Carolina Division of Health Benefits.

About the Medicaid Investigations Division (MID)

The Attorney General’s MID investigates fraud and abuse by healthcare companies and providers, as well as patient abuse and neglect in facilities that are funded by Medicaid. Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that helps provide medical care for people with limited income. To date, the MID has recovered more than $850 million in restitution and penalties for North Carolina.

To report Medicaid fraud in North Carolina, call the North Carolina Medicaid Investigations Division at 919-881-2320.


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