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District Court Allows Multistate Litigation Against Suboxone Maker

by Mitch Kline

September 6, 2022

42 States Claim Suboxone Monopoly

The Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently ruled that 42 states can proceed with antitrust litigation against the makers of Suboxone for “product hopping.” Suboxone is a medication used to help people who are addicted to opioids. The drug helps lower cravings for opioids and reduces withdrawal symptoms. Suboxone used to come in a tablet form, but in 2010 drug maker Indivior Inc. switched from tablet for sublingual film, citing safety concerns. In the lawsuit, the state coalition, led by Wisconsin, alleges that Indivior used illegal means to switch the Suboxone market from tablets to film while attempting to destroy the market for tablets, in order to preserve a drug monopoly.

“Natural market competition is critical to the health of any industry or economy,” said Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. “Missouri joined this lawsuit to preserve that natural market competition and to hold Indivior accountable for allegedly engaging in anti-competitive behaviors. My priority as attorney general will always be the protection of Missouri consumers, particularly in what could be a potentially life or death situation, and this lawsuit is only one of many actions my office has taken in order to protect consumers.”

“The intentional implementation of an illegal ‘product hopping’ scheme to block or delay generic versions of a medication used to help individuals recover from opioid addiction is a despicable exploitation of the opioid epidemic,” Virginia Attorney General Jason S. Miyares said. “The decisions made by Indivior Inc. caused purchasers to pay artificially high prices for a leading opioid addiction treatment, making access to recovery more difficult for Virginians while putting more money into the pockets of the manufacturers amid a national opioid crisis.”

The multistate coalition field a lawsuit in 2016, claiming that the switch from tablet to sublingual film was anticompetitive and designed to maintain Indivior’s market exclusivity, a scheme known as a “product hop.” The court denied Indivior’s motion for summary judgement, holding that there were facts and favorable law for the plaintiffs’ case to proceed. A trail has not been scheduled, but is expected in 2023.

Read the full court decision.

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