NH Joins Big Anti-Trust Suit Against Suboxone Maker

12/18/2016 -ATIN - The state of New Hampshire has joined what is now a 40-state federal anti-trust lawsuit against Reckitt Benckiser, the European household products giant that spent decades developing Suboxone and getting Congress to allow is sale through prescription by individual doctors via prescription pad in their offices. The suit was filed by 35 states in September and alleges that Reckitt, which a few years back sold Suboxone, manipulated the form of the drug in order to monopolize the market and to build monopoly type rents from the drug's sales.

suboxone_pic_copy.jpgReckitt's pharma unit is now independently traded, the new company's sole product being Suboxone. As generic competition began in recent years, Suboxone sales fell 8 percent to $1.1B in 2014, the first annual decline ever since the drug was FDA approved about a decade ago. There is no question that Suboxone is among the most successful and profitable drugs ever produced in the last quarter century. There are only three drugs approved by the FDA to treat what are now epidemic levels of drug addiction in the United States, although suboxone_chart.jpgdrug companies are pouring resources into the addiction pharma sector with at least three dozen compounds currently in some form of development, study or clinical trial.

Suboxone treats opiate addiction through its active ingredient buprenorphine, which binds to opiate receptors and prevents opiate withdrawl while producing very limited euphoric side effects, unlike other synthetic opiates like methadone.

By the time Reckitt lost its patent on Suboxone in pill form, Suboxone accounted for 85 percent of all spending on medication-assisted treatment in the U.S.-almost all of it subsidized by taxpayers. As part of its scheme to extend its monopoly on Suboxone - the strip patent in the U.S. goes beyond 2020 - the suit says that Reckitt drastically raised the price of the pill form to the point that they were more expensive than the strips even though the pills were far cheaper to produce.

Ted Jackson

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