By Brendan Pierson
(Reuters) – Indivior has agreed to pay $30 million to settle a class action lawsuit filed in a U.S. court by health plans accusing the drugmaker of illegally suppressing generic competition for its opioid addiction treatment Suboxone.
The settlement, disclosed on Saturday in a filing by lawyers for the health plans in federal court in Philadelphia, must still be approved by a judge. Indivior is still facing claims by drug wholesalers that bought Suboxone from the Virginia-based company directly, with a trial scheduled in October.
“We remain focused on helping those suffering from substance use disorders and mental illness,” Indivior CEO Mark Crossley said in a statement on Monday. “Resolving these legacy legal matters at the right value helps us further our mission for patients and creates greater certainty for our stakeholders.”
Lawyers for the health plans did not immediately respond to requests for comment. They said in their filing that the deal was “fair, reasonable, adequate and in the best interests” of the class.
Suboxone was approved for U.S. sale in 2002. Indivior had the exclusive right to sell the treatment in tablet form until 2009.
The health plans and drug wholesalers claimed in their lawsuits that Indivior switched to an oral film version of Suboxone from a tablet version to extend its monopoly, just as generic manufacturers were poised to sell their own lower-cost tablets. Generic tablets obtained federal approval in 2013.
Indivior agreed in June to pay $102.5 million to settle related claims by 41 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. The company in 2020 agreed to pay $600 million to resolve U.S. government allegations that it fraudulently promoted Suboxone, including by marketing the film version as safer and less abuse-prone than similar drugs.
More than 80,000 people in the United States died in 2021 from overdoses involving opioids, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York, Editing by Will Dunham and Alexia Garamfalvi)