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Indivior faces lawsuit from ex-parent company RB over Suboxone marketing scheme

Indivior has taken hit after hit from U.S. prosecutors for its marketing of Suboxone Film, a notorious addiction therapy treatment. With one executive in jail and billions of dollars in settlement money already signed over, Indivior is now facing a suit from its former parent company looking to siphon off even more cash.

Indivior plans to “vigorously defend itself” against a U.K. lawsuit from former owner Reckitt Benckiser, now known as RB, seeking $1.34 billion in damages tied to the company’s rapacious marketing scheme for opioid addiction therapy Suboxone Film, Indivior said in a statement. 

Last week, RB filed a suit in U.K. high court seeking those damages from Indivior, which it owned until 2014. According to The Guardian, the legal challenge is a “procedural” step with drugmakers required to file claims within six years of a demerger. 

The proposed damages would cover nearly all of the $1.4 billion settlement RB signed in July 2019 to settle the U.S. Department of Justice’s claims about its role in the Suboxone scheme. RB admitted no wrongdoing as part of the settlement package. 

Indivior called the suit “without merit” in a statement and said it had not yet been served by the court. 

RB’s filing—with damages that would exceed Indivior’s current market cap—is the latest in a series of blows against Indivior tied to its Suboxone marketing that has included massive settlements and jail time for one executive.

In October, former Indivior CEO Shaun Thaxter was sentenced to six months in federal prison after pleading guilty to his role in a scheme to snare Medicaid formulary coverage for Suboxone by misleading officials about its dangers to children.

Thaxter was also fined $100,000 and will forfeit an additional $500,000. He served as CEO at Indivior from 2009 until June of this year, stepping down just one day before he pleaded guilty to federal charges. The former executive was replaced by chief financial and operations officer Mark Crossley, who has worked at the company since 2017.

In late July, Indivior agreed to pay $600 million to federal and state authorities over the next seven years after pleading guilty to misleading the Massachusetts Medicaid program about Suboxone’s danger to children, the DOJ said.

The drugmaker shelled out $289 million to settle federal and state criminal claims, including closing an indictment from a West Virginia federal grand jury leveled in April 2019. Indivior also doled out $300 million to close accompanying civil claims.

In October 2019, RB agreed to settle with New York’s attorney general and five other states that alleged its pharma division, spun off in 2014 and rebranded as Indivior, misled doctors about the safety of Suboxone, leading to chronic overprescription of the med.

RB signed one of the largest settlements in pharma history over its Suboxone sales in July of that year, agreeing to shell out $1.4 billion to the feds to end multiple federal probes into its Suboxone scheme. RB’s settlement only covered allegations dating to the period before Indivior’s 2014 spinoff, Indivior said in a statement.