Reckitt to pay US$1.4 billion to end US opioid probes

14 Juillet, 2019, 07:15 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Rakesh Kapoor chief executive officer of Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc pauses during a Bloomberg Television interview in London Feb. 19 2018

However, the settlement marks the largest payout so far by any drug company involved in what US President Donald Trump has called the country's epidemic of opioid addiction.

Suboxone maker Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB Group) will pay the USA government a record $1.4 billion to end criminal and civil probes into the marketing of its addiction treatment medication, making it the largest settlement related to the opioid crisis in US history, authorities said on Thursday.

The settlement is the largest recovery for opioid drug mis-marketing in U.S. history, according to the Department of Justice, and is made up of $647m to the federal government, $700m to states and $50m to the Federal Trade Commission.

The government alleged that an ex-Reckitt subsidiary sought to increase prescriptions for Suboxone Film by deceiving health care providers into believing the drug was safer than other opioid addiction treatments. Indivior, the charges allege, was able to encourage prescribers to prescribe the treatment "at high rates and in a clinically unwarranted manner".

Suboxone Film was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2010. Indivior was spun off into a separate company from the RB Group in December 2014, but the exposure and looming litigation and probes related to Suboxone were still attached to the parent company.

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"RB will pay a total of up to $1.4 billion to fully resolve all federal investigations into RB in connection with the subject matter", the firm said in a statement. But it said its board had decided the settlement was in the company's best interests.

"It avoids the costs, uncertainty and distraction associated with continued investigations, litigation and the potential for an indictment", the FTSE 100 company said.

Reckitt had initially set aside $400 million to settle the investigation.

Admittedly, the settlement will act as a drag on cash flow at a time when Reckitt Benckiser is looking to shift the debt taken on to fund its 2017, $18bn acquisition of Mead Johnson, but bulls will be hoping that its strongly cash-generative business model ensures it can still reduce leverage while raising the dividend in the years to come. "Importantly, the resolution will protect RB's participation in all U.S. government programmes". In addition to prescription medications, Reckitt has a wide assortment of consumer products including Mucinex and Lysol cleaners.

Purdue has also said its future could be threatened after agreeing to pay $270m to settle the Oklahoma claims. Also in May, McKesson Corporation reached a settlement with the state of West Virginia. In May, Teva Pharmaceuticals agreed to a one-time payment of $85 million to the state of Oklahoma for its role in the opioid crisis there.

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