Ohio is among 36 states suing makers of the heroin addiction treatment drug Suboxone for antitrust violations.
Attorney Gen. Mike DeWine on Thursday announced that Ohio was one of the lead states in the multistate investigation that led to allegations the company that makes prescription Suboxone enaged in a scheme to block generic competitors and cause purchasers to pay artificially high prices.
Reckitt Renckiser Pharmaceuticals, now known as Indivior, is accused of conspiring with MonoSol Rx to switch Suboxone from a tablet version to a film that dissolves in the mouth to prevent or delay generic alternatives from coming onto the market and to maintain monopoly profits. The companies are accused of violating state and federal antitrust laws, according to a statement released by DeWine’s office.
“Some people rely on this prescription drug to treat heroin addiction,” DeWine said. “They shouldn’t be forced to pay higher prices or deprived of options because drugmakers circumvent the law to maximize their profits. People deserve the benefits of fair market competition. When the product involved is used to treat addiction, the implications are even more significant.”
Suboxone is a brand-name prescription drug used to treat opioid addictions by easing addiction cravings.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Pennsylvania. It accuses the companies of violating the federal Sherman Act and state laws. Over time, the manufacturer converted the market away from the tablet to the film through marketing, price adjustments and other methods. Ultimately, after the majority of Suboxone prescriptions were written for the film, Reckitt removed the tablet from the U.S. market only. The complaint alleges this was done to keep lower price generic alternatives off the market. Currently, no generic alternative of the film is available. The attorneys general claim that consumers and purchasers have paid artificially high monopoly prices, potentially since October 2009, when generic alternatives of Suboxone might otherwise have become available. During that time, annual sales of Suboxone topped $1 billion, according to the statement.