A class action lawsuit, the first of its kind in the nation, lobs harrowing accusations at the makers of Suboxone, the brand name prescription drug used to help heroin addicts recover from addiction by blocking receptors in the brain. Late in November, an additional six states added themselves to the class action lawsuit accusing two pharmaceutical companies of violating state and federal antitrust laws.

The lawsuit claims the two companies conspired to prevent or delay generic alternatives of Suboxone, a brand-name prescription drug used to treat heroin addiction and other opioid addiction by easing addiction cravings, from entering the generic drug market. The drug makers are accused of intentionally stalling and delaying cheaper, more widely available forms of their patented drug to go on the market. To this day, generic Suboxone is not available, and the attorney generals participating in the lawsuit say the reason for this was deception – simply to make a profit off the exclusivity of this important tool to help addicts stay clean.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit say Reckitt Benckiser took product shopping to a nefarious new level by using “feared-based messaging” and “sham science” to illegally subvert the market for Suboxone tablets while aggressively promoting its new film variation, which was introduced in 2010 and is under patent until 2023, leaving an easy “out” to prevent the companies from allowing a generic version on the market.

The pharmaceutical companies allegedly cheated protocol in a number of ways, including creating a new, different version of the drug to delay the original version from going to the generic market. The drug maker Reckitt worked with MonoSol to create a dissolvable film version and allegedly converted the market away from the tablet through marketing, price adjustments and other methods. However, once the majority of Suboxone prescriptions were written for the film, the lawsuit alleges Reckitt removed the tablet from the U.S. market, leaving consumers high and dry when they tried to fill them. The lawsuit also contends the Suboxone film provided no real added benefit and while it pushed the drug in the states, Reckitt continued to sell the tablets in other countries.

The class-action lawsuit was initially filed by the attorney general in Wisconsin, and now includes attorney generals from West Virginia, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Columbia, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

The most recent amended complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Pennsylvania.


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