Indivior boss steps down as firm battles opioid scandal
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.