Attorney General T.J. Donovan today announced that Vermont has reached a settlement agreement with the pharmaceutical distributor Reckitt Benckiser Group (“Reckitt”) for $10.67 million, of which $4.3 million will go to the State. The settlement resolves allegations that the company improperly marketed and promoted the drug Suboxone, resulting in improper expenditures of Medicaid funds. Of the total settlement, $5.46 million will be distributed to the federal government for the recovery of federal funding provided to Vermont Medicaid. The remaining sum is comprised of restitution for the State Medicaid system, additional recoveries for the State, and payment to the whistleblower(s) under the False Claims Act.
“Reckitt misled doctors and consumers about a critically important tool in our fight against the opioid epidemic, and the State and federal government paid for it,” said Attorney General Donovan. “Today’s settlement will make Vermont Medicaid and the taxpayer whole, while also holding Reckitt accountable for their deceptive practices.”
Until December 23, 2014, Reckitt’s subsidiary Indivior Inc. (then known as Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) distributed, marketed, and sold Suboxone Sublingual Tablets and Suboxone Sublingual Film. Today’s settlement resolves allegations from 2010 through 2014 that Reckitt, directly or through its subsidiary, knowingly:
- promoted the sale and use of Suboxone to physicians who were writing prescriptions (1) to patients without any counseling or psychosocial support, such that the prescriptions were not for a medically accepted indication, and (2) for uses that were unsafe, ineffective, and medically unnecessary and that were often diverted for uses that lacked a legitimate medical purpose;
- 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, and that Suboxone Sublingual Film was less susceptible to accidental pediatric exposure than Suboxone Sublingual Tablets;
- submitted a petition to the Food and Drug Administration on September 25, 2012, fraudulently claiming that it had discontinued manufacturing and selling Suboxone Sublingual Tablet “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.
This settlement is part of a nationwide resolution of claims against Reckitt. Reckitt has paid $700 million to resolve these nationwide claims arising out of six lawsuits pending in the federal courts in the Western District of Virginia and the District of New Jersey.
A breakdown of Vermont’s settlement is as follows:
- $5,466,498.98 to the federal government for the recovery of federal funding provided to Vermont Medicaid;
- $2,152,264.92 in restitution for Vermont Medicaid;
- $2,152,264.92 in recoveries to be divided between the Vermont Department of Health Access/Program Integrity Unit and the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud and Residential Abuse Unit for continued fraud, waste, and abuse detection and enforcement efforts;
- $902,982.67 to the whistleblower(s) as a statutorily required payment.
Last modified: October 24, 2019