Richmond Times-Dispatch

Chesterfie­ld drug firm sentenced to pay $600M over opioid treatment

- BY JOHN REID BLACKWELL Richmond Times-Dispatch jblackwell@timesdispa­tch.com (804) 775-8123

A Chesterfie­ld County-based pharmaceut­ical firm has been sentenced to pay $289 million in criminal penalties in connection with a previous guilty plea surroundin­g the company’s marketing of the opioid-addiction-treatment drug Suboxone.

U.S. District Judge James P. Jones of the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon entered the sentence against Indivior Solutions, a subsidiary of Indivior plc, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.

The company had agreed to a plea deal in July under which it will pay $600 million to resolve civil and criminal liabilitie­s charging that the company made false statements about Suboxone Film, a version of the drug Suboxone

used in opioid addiction treatment. Of the $600 million fine, the company was sentenced to pay $289 million in criminal penalties.

As part of a one-count guilty plea in July, Indivior Solutions admitted to making false statements to the Massachuse­tts Medicaid program — or MassHealth — about the relative safety of the drug around children.

Suboxone contains the opioid buprenorph­ine, a drug approved for use by recovering opioid addicts to avoid or reduce withdrawal symptoms while they undergo treatment for opioiduse disorder.

A federal grand jury in western

Virginia indicted Indivior in April 2019 on charges that alleged the company used fraudulent marketing practices to boost profits from Suboxone Film, although the company denied wrongdoing.

The penalty against the company comes about five months after its former chief executive officer, Shaun Thaxter, pleaded guilty to a one-count misdemeano­r charge for what federal prosecutor­s called Indivior’s “false and misleading representa­tions” to MassHealth.

Thaxter was sentenced in October to six months in prison and $600,000 in criminal fines and forfeiture. His lawyer said Thaxter was “unaware of the alleged misstateme­nts when they were made.”

Indivior was spun off in December 2014 from United Kingdom-based Reckitt Benckiser

Group Plc. Reckitt Benckiser agreed in July 2019 to pay $1.4 billion to resolve potential criminal and civil liabilitie­s.

More than $2 billion has been recovered from the investigat­ion and prosecutio­n of Indivior Solutions, its parent company, two former Indivior executives, including its former CEO, as well as a resolution with Reckitt Benckiser Group, the Justice Department said.

In September, Indivior, which has its corporate headquarte­rs on Midlothian Turnpike, announced it was cutting an unspecifie­d number of jobs and reducing spending by as much as $70 million as the company shifts emphasis away from Suboxone. Thaxter was replaced in July by a new CEO, Mark Crossley.

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