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Company that makes opioid treatment settles with Missouri for $1.8 million

by Jason Hancock | June 6, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
FILE - In this March 11, 2013 file photo, Shavonne Bullock, a recovering heroin addict, holds a demonstration dose of the medication Suboxone during an appointment at the West Division Family Health Center in Chicago. Each dose is incorporated on a dissolvable film, which is placed below the tongue where is dissolves and is absorbed into the bloodstream. Suboxone helps suppress withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings for people recovering from addiction to opioid drugs. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

A company that makes a common treatment for opioid addiction has agreed to settle an anti-trust lawsuit filed by 41 states in 2016 for $102.5 million, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced Friday.

Missouri will get $1.8 million from the settlement.

The company, Indivior Inc., manufactures Suboxone, which is designed to dampen cravings for stronger opioids.

Indivior was accused by the states of making minor changes to its product to keep it under patent so it wouldn't have to compete with lower-cost generics. Suboxone had been manufactured in pill form, but two years before its patent was to expire, the company filed an application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to deliver the medication on a strip to be placed beneath the tongue.

In 2016, then-Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster joined with 40 other states in a lawsuit alleging this conduct was illegal "product hopping," where a company makes modest changes to its product to extend patent protections in order to keep other companies from entering the market and offering cheaper generic alternatives.

Missouri has seen the effects of the nationwide opioid epidemic. In 2021, it had an age-adjusted overdose death rate of 36.5 per 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Missouri's death rate exceeded all but two of its neighbors: Kentucky at 55.6 and Tennessee 56.6.

West Virginia was by far the highest, with a death rate of 90.9 per 100,000 people.

"We've all seen the effects that the opioid epidemic has had on our communities, and while it raged on, several major companies schemed their way into profiting from it," Bailey said in a news release announcing the settlement.

The Missouri Independent,, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization covering state government and its impact on Missourians.

Print Headline: Opioid treatment company, state settle for $1.8M


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