Fayette County

Beshear joins lawsuit against maker of opioid treatment drug

Attorney General Andy Beshear has joined a multistate lawsuit against the makers of Suboxone, an opioid treatment drug, that alleges the pharmaceutical company blocked cheaper generic competitors and gouged customers with artificially high prices.

The lawsuit alleges Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, which is now known as Indivior, conspired with another drug company to switch Suboxone from a pill to a mouth-dissolving film. The lawsuit alleges that move was designed to delay cheaper generic alternatives.

“Substance abuse is the single greatest threat to our Commonwealth,” Beshear said. “For these companies to allegedly try and monopolize the market on a treatment drug is beyond belief and borderlines on inhuman. In Kentucky, drugs are killing our children, destroying our families and scarring our neighborhoods. It is also the single greatest threat to job growth.”

The companies are accused of violating state and federal antitrust laws.

Suboxone is a popular opioid blocker that is used in the treatment of heroin and other opioid addiction.

In 2002, Suboxone was introduced as a pill. Drugs are protected for seven years before a generic can enter the market. The lawsuit alleges that Reckitt worked with a company MonoSol to create a dissolvable film. Ultimately, Reckitt moved all prescriptions to the film and removed the tablet from the market. By moving to the film, the pharmaceutical company delayed the release of generics into the market, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Pennsylvania. To date, 36 state attorneys general have joined the lawsuit.

Beth Musgrave: 859-231-3205, @HLCityhall