Reckitt's settlement is only the latest in a series of actions brought by federal and state authorities against companies accused of fraudulent marketing practices for opioid drugs, which have contributed to an epidemic of overdose deaths across the USA in the last few years.
Finsbury is working media for Reckitt Benckiser Group's record $1.4B opioid-linked settlement with the Justice Dept. and Federal Trade Commission regarding marketing practices for the Suboxone Film painkiller of its former subsidiary, Indivior.
"Opioid withdrawal is hard, painful, and sometimes risky; people struggling to overcome addiction face challenges that can often seem insurmountable", commented assistant attorney general Jody Hunt in a statement. Though Reckitt was not charged, investors anxious the company could face a big fine or an indictment.
Reckitt then allegedly filed a citizen petition with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reciting the unsupported safety claims and requesting that the agency reject any generic tablet application.
According to the FTC, this petition was meant to delay the approval of generic competitors while the FDA reviewed it.
Federal prosecutors claimed that Reckitt "illegally obtained billions of dollars in revenue" by tricking healthcare providers into believing that Suboxone is safer and less susceptible to abuse than similar drugs although its active ingredient is an opioid.
As part of Thursday's settlement, Reckitt entered into a non-prosecution agreement and agreed to pay almost $1.35bn to settle the criminal and civil claims.
In April 2019, a grand jury sitting in Virginia, indicted Reckitt's former subsidiary Indivior for allegedly engaging in an illicit nationwide scheme to increase prescriptions of Suboxone.
In April, the United States justice department charged Indivior with fraudulently claiming Suboxone Film was better and safer than similar drugs when it was not. Indivior, the charges allege, was able to encourage prescribers to prescribe the treatment "at high rates and in a clinically unwarranted manner".
Under the civil settlement, Reckitt has agreed to pay a total of $700 million to resolve claims that the marketing of Suboxone caused false claims to be submitted to government health care programmes.
"While RB acted lawfully at all times and expressly denies all allegations that it has engaged in any wrongful conduct, after careful consideration, the board of RB determined that the agreement is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders", it said in a statement to the FT.
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