By: Vicki Batts
A major lawsuit against drug manufacturer Indivior alleges that the company has violated antitrust laws by trying to extend their monopoly on Suboxone. New York’s Attorney General announced that the suit had been filed by 35 states along with the District of Columbia in late September.
Suboxone is a prescription drug that is used to treat addiction to painkillers, heroin and other opioids. California’s Attorney General commented that the actions of Indivior purposely drove up their prices and caused people in need to lose access to valuable medication. Attorney General Harris said, “When prescription drug companies unlawfully manipulate the marketplace to maximize profits, they put lives at risk and drive up the cost of healthcare for everyone. Indivior and MonosolRX flagrantly violated the law, deceiving doctors and patients and shutting down generic competition in order to rake in profits.”
As a result of its alleged practices, Indivior has earned billions of dollars — and these 35 states are saying they need to pay it back. Supposedly, Indivior conspired with MonosolRX to prohibit production of Suboxone by generic manufacturers. According to CNN, the companies pulled off this deceptive maneuver by switching the drug’s form from a tablet to a dissolving film, in order to maintain their monopoly. CNN reports , “As a result, consumers have been paying artificially high prices for Suboxone since 2009, when a generic alternative might otherwise have become available.”
In 2002, the FDA gave Indivior (then known as Reckitt Benckiser) approval for Suboxone and granted them exclusive rights to the sell the drug for seven years, based on the company’s representations that it would probably not recover its investment on the drug. However, during that time, the product actually generated over a billion dollars in sales.
In 2007, two years before their rights expired, Indivior and MonosolRX decided to eliminate their competition by developing the Suboxone film. After doing so, a statement from California’s Office of the Attorney General reveals that in order to maintain their monopoly, they “falsely claimed the tablets presented pediatric safety issues, made unfounded claims to physicians that tablets were dangerous, and raised the price of its tablet while lowering the price of the film.”
CNN reports that Indivior eventually even removed their tablets from the market. By the time a generic tablet was able to enter the marketplace, the pharma company had managed to convince most doctors to prescribe the film — for which there is no generic replacement.
Despite the claims that the film would somehow pose less of a risk to kids, the FDA acknowledged that it may actually be even more dangerous — and then approved the film for use anyways. Of course, Indivior and MonosolRX maintain that they aren’t guilty of anything.
While the FDA is equally at fault here — they did allow it to happen, now didn’t they?– it is hard to see any innocence in these two companies. In addition to the lies and corruption , there is also an inherent lack of morals that goes along with robbing sick people.