FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 23 2016
For More Information, contact:
Mike Lewis (334) 353-2199
Alabama Attorney General
Joy Patterson (334) 242-7491
Page 1 of 2
AG STRANGE JOINS MULTI-STATE COMPLAINT ACCUSING
SUBOXONE MAKERS OF CONSPIRING TO KEEP MONOPOLY PROFITS
(MONTGOMERY) — Attorney General Luther Strange joined 35 other Attorneys
General yesterday in filing an antitrust lawsuit against the makers of Suboxone, a
prescription drug used to treat opioid addiction. The complaint alleges that the
companies engaged in a scheme to block generic competitors and cause purchasers to
pay artificially high prices.
Reckitt Benckiser 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) in order to prevent or delay generic alternatives and maintain
The companies are accused of violating state laws and federal antitrust laws.
“Antitrust laws exist to protect consumers from unscrupulous trade practices
that stifle fair competition,” said Attorney General Strange. “This lawsuit seeks to stop
Indivior from doing so, and to provide relief for consumers who were harmed.”
Suboxone is a brand-name prescription drug used to treat heroin addiction and
other opioid addictions by easing addiction cravings. No generic alternative is currently
“The proliferation of opioid addictions is a tragedy in America and particularly
in Alabama,” noted Attorney General Strange. “I have been committed as Attorney
General to combat drug abuse through such programs as Prescription Drug Take Back
and in Congress where I advocated a new law to expand prevention and education
efforts throughout the nation. It is imperative that we make the best use of our
resources to be effective in fighting this important battle. “
501 Washington Avenue * Montgomery, AL 36104 * (334) 242-7300
www.ago.state.al.us Page 2 of 2
According to yesterday’s lawsuit, when Reckitt introduced Suboxone in 2002 (in
tablet form), it had exclusivity protection that lasted for seven years, meaning no
generic version could enter the market during that time. Before that period ended,
however, Reckitt worked with MonoSol to create a new version of Suboxone – a
dissolvable film, similar in size to a breath strip. Over time, Reckitt allegedly 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.
The Attorneys General allege that this conduct was illegal “product hopping,”
where a company makes modest changes to its product to extend patent protections so
other companies can’t enter the market and offer cheaper generic alternatives.
According to the suit, the Suboxone film provided no real benefit over the tablet and
Reckitt continued to sell the tablets in other countries even after removing them from
the U.S. market. Reckitt also allegedly expressed unfounded safety concerns about the
tablet version and intentionally delayed FDA approval of generic versions of Suboxone.
As a result, the Attorneys General allege, consumers and purchasers have paid
artificially high monopoly prices since late 2009, when generic alternatives of Suboxone
might otherwise have become available. During that time, annual sales of Suboxone
topped $1 billion.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of
Pennsylvania, accuses the companies of violating the federal Sherman Act and state
laws. Counts include conspiracy to monopolize and illegal restraint of trade. In the suit,
the Attorneys General ask the court to stop the companies from engaging in
anticompetitive conduct, to restore competition, and to order appropriate relief for
consumers and the states, plus costs and fees.
The Attorneys General of the following jurisdictions joined in the lawsuit: States
of Wisconsin, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware,
Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan,
Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio,
Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, the
Commonwealths of Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and the
District of Columbia.