New York State and five other states reached a $700 million settlement on Wednesday with drug distributor Reckitt Benckiser following a probe into their role in the country’s ongoing opioid epidemic, according to a press release by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
The $700 million payment is a part of a larger $1.4 billion settlement that had been agreed upon back in July over allegations that the drug distributor had improperly advertised a drug to treat opioid addiction.
Claims against Reckitt Benckiser's former pharmaceuticals business, Indivior, allege that the company carried out an “illegal scheme” to boost the sales of Suboxone, an opioid addiction treatment drug.
“Pharmaceutical companies have a basic duty to ensure that they are properly disclosing and marketing powerful drugs,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “Reckitt misled the public about the real impacts of Suboxone and encouraged physicians to wrongly prescribe it, while cheating New York out of tens of millions of dollars in the process. No company is above the law and we will continue to take on anyone who takes advantage of the opioid crisis to increase their bottom line.”
Some $500 million of that $700 million will go to the federal government, while the remaining $200 million will be distributed amongst states that had participated in July’s agreement.
In April, Indivior was indicted after being accused of deceptive marketing practices, misleading doctors and healthcare benefit programs into believing Suboxone, a synthetic opioid used to wean addicts off of heroin and other opioid painkillers was safe from abuse and would be less addictive than the opiate drugs themselves.
Under the agreement, New York's Medicaid program will receive more than $71.9 million, with $39.9 million to be returned to New York State, James revealed. The remaining five states that are a part of the $700 million settlement are California, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, and Washington.