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US states sue British firm over anti-addiction drug marketing

Published 23/09/2016

Suboxone is used to treat heroin and painkiller addiction
Suboxone is used to treat heroin and painkiller addiction

Thirty-five US states plus the District of Columbia have filed an antitrust lawsuit claiming British company Indivior tried to keep cheaper, generic versions of an anti-addiction drug off the market.

The complaint filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania also names New Jersey's MonoSol Rx, a pharmaceutical dissolving-film company, for conspiring to corner the market on Suboxone, the popular medication used to treat people hooked on heroin and other painkillers.

According to the lawsuit, the Slough, Berkshire-based company known today as Indivior was granted exclusive rights in 2002 to sell Suboxone tablets for seven years. When its rights expired, the company worked with MonoSol Rx to make an oral strip form of the drug that they then marketed as safer than tablets, the complaint said.

The states claim the conduct is illegal "product hopping", where a company makes small changes to a product to keep cheaper alternatives off the market, said Pennsylvania's attorney general Bruce Beemer.

"When prescription drug companies unlawfully manipulate the marketplace to maximise profits, they put lives at risk and drive up the cost of health care for everyone," said California's attorney general Kamala Harris.

Representatives of the two companies were not immediately available for comment.

AP

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