A multistate lawsuit claiming a drugmaker attempted to stifle generic competition of an effective opioid addiction treatment has resulted in a $102.5 million settlement of which Arkansas will receive nearly $1.25 million, Attorney General Tim Griffin announced Monday.
Arkansas is one of 41 states and the District of Columbia to receive a share of the settlement with the drugmaker, Indivior, to settle a lawsuit accusing the pharmaceutical manufacturer of illegally suppressing generic competition for its opioid addiction drug Suboxone.
"Opioid addiction is a scourge on our country, and it's unconscionable that a company would put profits ahead of people's suffering. I am pleased with the outcome of this case and appreciate the work of the coalition of states to ensure that Indivior Inc. follows the law," said Griffin in a news release.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the North Chesterfield, Va.-based drug manufacturer denied wrongdoing in resolving the claims and has agreed moving forward to provide additional disclosures to the states to ensure it does not engage in further anti-competitive tactics. The settlement averts a trial that was set to begin in September.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed in 2016, the pharmaceutical manufacturer received approval in 2002 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to exclusively market Suboxone tablets as an "orphan drug" for five years. The lawsuit accused Indivior of attempting to head off generic competition and maintain its monopoly by using illegal means to switch patients from Suboxone tablets to a new, patented Suboxone sublingual film as a means of delaying a generic entry into the market in 2013.
Under the terms of the settlement, the funds may be spent on any one or more of the following purposes, according to Griffin's statement:
Payment of attorneys' fees and expenses.
Antitrust or consumer protection law enforcement.
Deposit into a state antitrust or consumer protection account for use in accordance with the state laws governing that account.
Deposit into a fund exclusively dedicated to assisting state attorneys general in enforcing the antitrust laws by defraying the costs of a) expert economists and consultants in multi-state antitrust investigations and litigation; b) training or continuing education in antitrust for attorneys in state attorney general offices; or c) information management systems used in multi-state antitrust investigations and litigation.
Any other purpose as the attorneys general deem appropriate, consistent with state laws.
Griffin said during a phone interview Monday that other than $135,700 that will go to pay the state's share of the legal costs of the lawsuit, no other decisions have been made on how the money will be allocated.
"We won't determine any specific uses for the remainder of the settlement money until those funds are deposited with the state," Griffin said. "In any event, the money will have to be spent according to the terms of the settlement."
Indivior said in a news release Friday that it expects to pay the settlement amount this month using the company's existing cash.
"Indivior is focused on helping those who suffer from substance use disorders," Mark Crossley, the company's chief executive officer, said in the statement. "We take our role as a responsible steward of medications for addiction and rescue extremely seriously. Resolving these legacy matters at the right value allows us to further this mission for patients."