State of Alaska Medicaid Program Recovers $570,000 Recovery from National Suboxone Fraud Litigation
November 07, 2019
(ANCHORAGE, AK) - Attorney General Kevin Clarkson and the Alaska Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) announced on November 7, 2019 that Alaska received $572,590 as its share of a Federal and multi-State lawsuit over the improper marketing of Suboxone. In July 2019, Alaska and other states reached an agreement with the pharmaceutical distributor Reckitt Benckiser Group (“Reckitt”) to settle allegations that the company, directly or through a subsidiary, improperly marketed and promoted the drug Suboxone, resulting in improper expenditures of state Medicaid funds. Suboxone is a drug product approved for use by recovering opioid addicts to avoid or reduce withdrawal symptoms while they undergo treatment. Suboxone and its active ingredient, buprenorphine, are powerful and addictive opioids. Alaska received its share of settlement funds this week.
Reckitt is an English public limited company headquartered in Slough, England, the United Kingdom. Until December 23, 2014, Reckitt’s wholly owned subsidiary, Indivior Inc. (then known as Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, Inc.), distributed, marketed, and sold Suboxone Sublingual Tablets and Suboxone Sublingual Film in the United States. In December 2014, Reckitt spun off Indivior Inc. The settlement described in this statement is with Reckitt only. Reckitt has paid a total of Seven Hundred Million Dollars ($700,000,000.00) to resolve various civil fraud allegations impacting Medicaid and other government healthcare programs, of which over Four Hundred Million Dollars ($400,000,000.00) will go to the Medicaid programs. This civil settlement resolves claims against Reckitt brought in six qui tam lawsuits pending in federal courts in the Western District of Virginia and the District of New Jersey.
The civil settlement resolves allegations that, from 2010 through 2014, Reckitt, directly or through its subsidiaries, knowingly: (a) 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; (b) 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; (c) 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 (d) 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.
A National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units (“NAMFCU”) Team participated in the investigation and in settlement negotiations. The Team included representatives from the Offices of the Attorneys General for the states of California, Indiana, New York, Ohio, Virginia, and Washington.
The Alaska MFCU participated in this investigation and settlement as part of the State’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and the scourge of opiate and other illicit drug abuse. The Alaska MFCU is part of the Attorney General’s Office and located in Anchorage. It is responsible for investigating and prosecuting Medicaid fraud, and abuse, neglect, or financial exploitations of patients in any facility that accepts Medicaid funds. Citizens with information about suspected medical assistance fraud, or patient abuse or neglect are encouraged to contact the Alaska MFCU at its website, or by phone at 907.269.6279.
CONTACT: MFCU Director James Fayette at 907-269-6263 or email@example.com .
# # #
Department Media Contact: Senior Assistant Attorney General Cori Mills at (907) 465-2132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.