ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) – Indivior Solutions was sentenced to pay $289 million in criminal penalties in connection with a previous guilty plea related to the marketing of the opioid-addiction-treatment drug Suboxone, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.
U.S. District Judge James P. Jones of the Western District of Virginia entered the sentence against Indivior Solutions after a plea agreement Thursday.
Along with Indivior’s civil penalties, the company is set to pay $600 million to resolve its civil and criminal liability, officials said. Altogether, the investigation and prosecution of Indivior Solutions and its parent companies, Indivior Inc. and Indivior plc, and two former Indivior executives and a resolution with Indivior’s former parent, Reckitt Benckiser Group plc, resulted in recoveries of more than $2 billion, a press release from the Department of Justice detailed.
“Combating the opioid epidemic is a top priority for the Department of Justice,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We will hold drug manufacturers accountable when they make misrepresentations that could affect consumers’ access to opioid addiction treatments.”
Indivior Solutions, a subsidiary of Indivior Inc., pleaded guilty on July 24, 2020, to a one-count felony criminal information charging false statements relating to health care matters, according to the release.
Indivior Inc. agreed to terms complementing the Indivior Solutions guilty plea and agreed to implement prospective measures that include permanently disbanding Indivior Inc.’s Suboxone sales force and taking steps to prevent promoting Suboxone to health care providers at a high risk of inappropriate prescribing.
On June 30, 2020, Indivior’s former CEO, Shaun Thaxter, pleaded guilty to one-count misdemeanor information related to Indivior’s false and misleading representations to MassHealth.
On October 22, 2020, the court sentenced Thaxter to a six-month term in prison and $600,000 in criminal fines and forfeiture.
On August 26, 2020, Indivior’s former medical director, Tim Baxter, pleaded guilty to one-count misdemeanor information related to Indivior’s false and misleading representations to MassHealth.
Baxter’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 17, 2020, before Judge Jones in Abingdon.
“When a drug manufacturer claims to be part of the solution to the national opioid epidemic, we expect it to make honest representations to government officials, physicians and patients, who have to make crucial treatment decisions,” said Acting United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar of the Western District of Virginia. “Instead, Indivior made false statements about Suboxone’s safety to increase its sales. I’m proud of the close relationship we have with our federal and state partners that led to today’s important result.”
In its guilty plea, Indivior Solutions admitted that in October 2012 it tried to convince MassHealth to expand Medicaid coverage of Suboxone Film in Massachusetts and sent MassHealth a misleading chart and false data indicating that Suboxone Film had the lowest rate of accidental pediatric exposure of all buprenorphine drugs in Massachusetts, when in fact it did not.
Indivior Solutions also admitted that sending the false and misleading information occurred in the context of marketing and promotional efforts directed at MassHealth, which were overseen by top executives. MassHealth announced it would provide access to Suboxone Film for patients with children under the age of six shortly after Indivior provided false and misleading information to agency officials.
“Opioid manufacturers and distributors must be held accountable for their illegal actions in the course of this national crisis that continues to devastate families and communities across the Commonwealth,” said Attorney General Herring. “I want to thank my Medicaid Fraud Unit for their hard work on this important case and I also want to thank our local, state, and federal partners for their help and collaboration. No dollar amount or criminal punishment alone will fix this epidemic, but my team and I remain dedicated to holding these pharmaceutical companies accountable for illegal conduct related to the sales of opioids.”
The criminal case against Indivior was prosecuted by Randy Ramseyer of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia; Albert P. Mayer and Carol Wallack of the Department of Justice Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch; Charles J. Biro and Matthew J. Lash of the Department of Justice Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch; Kristin L. Gray, Joseph S. Hall and Janine M. Myatt of the Virginia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit of the Office of the Attorney General; and Garth W. Huston of the Federal Trade Commission. This matter was investigated by the Virginia Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit; FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigation; the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General; and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.