ATTORNEY GENERAL TONG ANNOUNCES $700 MILLION MULTISTATE FALSE CLAIMS ACT SETTLEMENT WITH RECKITT BENCKISER OVER IMPROPER MARKETING AND SALE OF SUBOXONE
Connecticut to Recover $18.8 Million
(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong joined attorneys general nationwide in announcing a $700 million agreement between states, the U.S. Department of Justice and pharmaceutical distributor Reckitt Benckiser Group to settle allegations that the company violated the federal and state False Claims Act by improperly marketing and promoting the drug Suboxone, resulting in improper expenditures of state Medicaid funds.
Suboxone is approved for use by recovering opioid addicts to avoid or reduce withdrawal symptoms while they undergo treatment. Suboxone and its active ingredient, buprenorphine support effective, evidence-based treatment of opioid use disorder when properly promoted and utilized.
The portion of this settlement attributable to Connecticut's Medicaid program (a joint state/federal program) is $17.8 million. In addition, Connecticut will receive an additional $1 million recovery for Connecticut Department of Social Services’ state-funded programs.
"Reckitt Benckiser knowingly promoted the sale of suboxone for unsafe, ineffective and unnecessary purposes, reaping undue profits from states and the federal government while imperiling the lives of countless individuals. This agreement will return $18.8 million back to Connecticut's Medicaid program, as well as DSS' state-funded programs. This settlement sends a strong message that states across the nation are united in taking aggressive action against those who fraudulently and callously contributed to the opioid epidemic," said Attorney General William Tong.
Chief State’s Attorney Kevin T. Kane commended the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Social Services and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney for their continued collaboration to combat waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicaid program. “By working together, we are assuring that scarce taxpayer dollars are being used for the intended purpose of assisting those most in need,” Chief State's Attorney Kane said.
The civil settlement resolves allegations that, from 2010 through 2014, Reckitt Benckiser, 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, without a medically accepted indication, and 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 U.S. 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.
• 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.
The settlement reached includes all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Assistant attorney general Michael E. Cole, Chief of the Antitrust and Government Program Fraud Department assisted the Attorney General in this effort.