$700 Million International Pharmaceutical Company Settlement Reached
October 24, 2019
Says ‘This corporation has double-dipped the Medicaid system by deceptively advertising to physicians’
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced Arkansas has reached a multistate agreement in principle with the pharmaceutical distributor Reckitt Benckiser Group (Reckitt). The agreement settles allegations that the company improperly marketed or otherwise promoted the drug Suboxone, resulting in improper expenditures of state Medicaid funds.
“Arkansans have suffered enough at the hands of opioid distributors like Reckitt,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This corporation has double-dipped the Medicaid system by deceptively advertising to physicians that Suboxone is safe, and subsequently received Medicaid reimbursements for the falsely-marketed drug.”
The England-based company had, until December 23, 2014, a subsidiary named Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (RPI). RPI distributed, marketed and sold Suboxone in the United States. The drug contains a combination of buprenorphine (an opioid) and naloxone (an opioid antagonist) and was approved to suppress opioid withdrawal symptoms as part of a complete treatment plan to include counseling and psychosocial support. Used alone however, this drug has resulted in opioid addiction.
Reckitt will pay a total of $700 million dollars in resolution of various civil fraud allegations impacting Medicaid and other government healthcare programs, of which more than $400 million will go into the Medicaid program. The total Medicaid settlement for Arkansas is $462,948.97.
Additionally, Reckitt will enter into a separate non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch.
The federal and state civil settlements will resolve the following allegations:
- That Reckitt directly or through its subsidiaries knowingly promoted the sale and use of Suboxone to physicians who were writing prescriptions:
- To patients without any counseling or psychosocial support
- For uses that were unsafe, ineffective, and medically unnecessary
- That Reckitt directly or through its subsidiaries knowingly 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
- Suboxone Sublingual Film was less susceptible to accidental pediatric exposure than Suboxone Sublingual Tablets. Physicians relied on these false and misleading claims in prescribing Suboxone Sublingual Film, and state Medicaid agencies relied on these false and misleading claims in making authorization decisions.
- That Reckitt directly or through its subsidiaries knowingly submitted a petition to the Food and Drug Administration on September 25, 2012, fraudulently claiming that Suboxone Sublingual Tablet had been discontinued “due to safety concerns” about the tablet formulation of the drug and 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.
To submit a consumer complaint or learn more about Medicaid fraud-related issues, contact the Arkansas Attorney General’s office at (800) 482-8982, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ArkansasAG.gov.