Inmates Addiction Medication

In this July 23, 2018, photo, newly-released inmate George Ballentine holds his prescription medicine Suboxone outside a pharmacy in Greenfield, Mass. While serving his sentence at the Franklin County Jail, Ballentine received a daily dose of buprenorphine (Suboxone) to control his heroin and opioid cravings. His doctor hopes to soon take him off the medication he'd been on for his last two months in jail. 

The Delaware Department of Justice Thursday announced it was part of a multi-state settlement with suboxone distributor Reckitt Benckiser Group for its improper marketing and promotion of the addictive opioid withdrawal treatment.

Suboxone was a drug approved to treat those battling substance use disorder to avoid withdrawal symptoms, but with an active ingredient--buprenorphine--which itself was a powerful and addictive opioid. 

“I’m grateful for the work that our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit does each day to protect consumers and ensure good stewardship of our tax dollars,” said Attorney General Kathy Jennings. “The opioid crisis has been one of the deadliest epidemics in Delaware history, and the challenges of recovery cannot be overstated. Appropriate medication can be a vital resource for people facing the considerable challenges of recovery, and we expect companies selling that medication to be fair and honest with consumers and Medicaid alike.”

The civil settlement "resolves allegations" that claim, from 2010 to 2014, Reckitt, either directly or through subsidiaries, sold Suboxone Sublingual Tablets and Suboxone Sublingual Film in the United States while it: 

  1. Promoted the sale and use of Suboxone to physicians who were writing prescriptions for patients without any counseling or psychosocial support, for uses that were unsafe, ineffective, and medically unnecessary. These practices allegedly made Suboxone susceptible to diversion for uses that lacked a legitimate medical purpose.
  2. Falsely and misleadingly claimed that Suboxone Sublingual Film was less susceptible to diversion and abuse than other buprenorphine products, and that Suboxone Sublingual Film was less susceptible to accidental pediatric exposure than Suboxone Sublingual Tablets;
  3. Fraudulently claimed in an FDA petition that it had discontinued manufacturing and selling Suboxone Sublingual Tablet “due to safety concerns” about the drug’s tablet formulation; and
  4. Fraudulently stifled generic competition for various forms of Suboxone in order to improperly control pricing, including pricing to federal health care programs.

The company has agreed to pay $700 million to resolve various civil fraud allegations impacting government healthcare programs. Delaware will receive $1.3 million, to be allocated to the Department of Health and Social Services Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance.