Suboxone maker Reckitt Benckiser to pay $1.4 billion in largest opioid settlement in US history

Summary and Analysis

The largest opioid settlement in history comes, not from a company that oversold opioids, but from a company profiting from the crisis.

This should be a strident alarm for any community, city or state considering moving to a model that focuses on making Suboxone or other Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) drugs widely available, particularly when such a move limits access to non-MAT approaches. 

The pharmaceutical industry has a long, well-documented history of overselling drug benefits while downplaying deleterious effects and unintended consequences. See Deciphering Drug Study Tricks-of-the-Trade for a summary of some of the more common deceits used.

The industry's role in causing the opioid crisis is also well documented and is the subject of hundreds of lawsuits. See Suing the Opioid Companies.

It should, therefore, come as no surprise that the industry which oversold opioids is using the same unethical marketing tactics to an addictive "solution." 

Excerpted from ABC News


Suboxone maker Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB Group) will pay the U.S. government a record $1.4 billion to end criminal and civil probes into the marketing of its addiction treatment medication, making it the largest settlement related to the opioid crisis in U.S. history, authorities said on Thursday.

The settlement will cover multiple investigations into the company’s subsidiary, Indivior (formerly known as Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc.), and its alleged illegal marketing of its drug, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said.

On April 9, a federal grand jury in Virginia indicted Indivior for “allegedly engaging in an illicit nationwide scheme to increase prescriptions of Suboxone,” according to the DOJ. The company denied the charges and trial is scheduled to start in May 2020.

Federal prosecutors charged that Indivior allegedly marketed a version of Suboxone (Suboxone Film) to medical professionals as less addictive and safer than other drugs containing its active ingredient, the opioid buprenorphine, according to the DOJ statement.