Charles Krupa / AP
The British company Reckitt Benckiser has agreed to shell out $ 1.4 billion to resolve all the US government's investigations and claims in what is the largest regulation of the drug industry to date, resulting from the l 39; deadly epidemic of opioids in the country.
In a statement released Thursday, Reckitt Benckiser denied the wrongdoing but said the settlement agreement "avoids the costs, uncertainty and distraction associated with ongoing investigations, litigation and the potential for Accused".
The company's former Indivior division, created in 2014, manufactures an opioid-dependent drug called Suboxone Film, which dissolves under the tongue. In April, the Ministry of Justice indicted Indivior for fraud and conspiracy.
Federal prosecutors said that from 2010, Indivior had falsely sold his film as safer and less subject to abuse than cheaper tablets, illegally gaining billions of dollars through a "national program" aimed at health care providers and insurers, including Medicaid.
Indivior denied the allegations. Prosecutors say the company should lose at least $ 3 billion in penalties if found guilty.
In announcing the Reckitt Benckiser regulation, the Department of Justice pointed out that Suboxone is a drug designed to help people suffering from opioid addiction. "Drug manufacturers marketing products to help opioid addicts should do so in an honest and responsible way," said Deputy Attorney General Jody Hunt.
Most of the $ 1.4 billion will go to various federal agencies, but $ 200 million will be allocated among the signatory states of the settlement agreement, the money being used to repay their Medicaid budgets.
Although the gain is notable for its size, it has been a year of calculation for the pharmaceutical industry. Insys Therapeutics, Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries have agreed to pay a combined total of more than half a billion dollars to state and federal agencies for the settlement of opioid claims.
In May, seven Insys executives and former leaders pleaded guilty or were convicted on federal level racketeering charges related to the commercialization of opioid drugs. This company subsequently declared bankruptcy. Purdue Phama spoke openly about the tabling of Chapter 11.
Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson is in court in Oklahoma, the attorney general of that state claiming compensation of $ 17 billion. This trial is expected to end early next week.
Another big lawsuit begins in October and involves lawsuits filed against Big Pharma by more than 1,200 local governments in the United States. This consolidated case will be heard by a federal court in Ohio.
This is the kind of legal chaos linked to opioids that Reckitt Benckiser wants to avoid, but it may not be entirely clear. One of the biggest fears in the industry is that companies are paying huge profits while facing persistent liability.
Reckitt Benckiser is still being prosecuted by dozens of attorneys general. Some officials may choose to take part in this federal regulation, but others may continue to fight in court, calling for separate regulations for opioids.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that from 1999 to 2017, more than 200,000 people died from overdoses of prescription opioids.