In­di­v­ior boss steps down as firm bat­tles opi­oid scan­dal

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Han­nah Ut­t­ley

THE boss of drug firm In­di­v­ior has been forced to quit af­ter six years marred by an opi­oid scan­dal and a string of profit warn­ings.

Shaun Thax­ter was re­placed by chief fi­nance of­fi­cer Mark Cross­ley with im­me­di­ate ef­fect, the com­pany said. He is leav­ing the busi­ness by mu­tual agree­ment with the board.

Mr Thax­ter has over­seen a 31pc fall in the com­pany’s share price since it was floated by for­mer owner Reckitt Benckiser in Novem­ber 2014, amid a furore over its Subox­one Film treat­ment for re­cov­er­ing heroin ad­dicts.

The com­pany is fight­ing to reach a set­tle­ment with the US Depart­ment of Jus­tice (DoJ) over claims that it fraud­u­lently mar­keted the pow­er­ful drug. In­di­v­ior is also said to have pushed ad­dicts to­wards doc­tors who were pre­scrib­ing it at high rates and in a clin­i­cally un­nec­es­sary man­ner.

Au­thor­i­ties have de­manded at least $3bn (£2.4bn) in fines against In­di­v­ior, which ear­lier this year set aside a $438m pro­vi­sion for lit­i­ga­tion mat­ters mostly re­lated to the DoJ dis­pute.

Mr Thax­ter was chief ex­ec­u­tive of Reckitt Benckiser’s phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals di­vi­sion from 2009 un­til 2014.

Harry Seph­ton, an an­a­lyst at In­di­v­ior’s house bro­ker Jef­feries, said the boss’s de­par­ture raised ques­tions about In­di­v­ior’s progress to­wards a deal. He said: “We see no clear ex­pla­na­tion for Mr Thax­ter step­ping down, but a ‘mu­tual agree­ment with the board’ would not sug­gest it was per­for­mance driven or for per­sonal rea­sons in our view.

“We ex­pect the most likely ra­tio­nale is that his po­si­tion at the com­pany be­came un­ten­able fol­low­ing progress with cur­rent lit­i­ga­tions.”

Mr Thax­ter has been classed as a “good leaver” and will get $1.1m in salary and ben­e­fits which he would have earned while work­ing his no­tice.

He also holds 1.7m In­di­v­ior shares worth $1.8m at to­day’s prices through In­di­v­ior’s in­cen­tive plan, though the award is de­pen­dent on meet­ing tar­gets.

In April, In­di­v­ior scrapped fi­nan­cial guid­ance for the year af­ter it warned the coro­n­avirus cri­sis had cut the num­ber of pa­tients us­ing its drugs.

That came just months af­ter the group said it would likely sink to a loss in 2020 due to fall­ing sales of Subox­one Film as it loses mar­ket share to cheaper ver­sions sold by generic com­peti­tors.

Mr Cross­ley, who has be­come chief ex­ec­u­tive with im­me­di­ate ef­fect, has been the firm’s chief fi­nan­cial and oper­a­tions of­fi­cer since Fe­bru­ary 2017 and helped lead its de­merger from Reckitt Benckiser.

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