Reckitt Benckiser Non Prosecution Agreement
In July 2019, the US Department of Justice announced that it had reached a non-prosecution agreement with British consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser (RB) in relation to a case concerning the marketing and sale of Suboxone Film, a drug used to treat opioid addiction. While the company did not admit to any wrongdoing, it agreed to pay $1.4 billion to resolve the matter.
The allegations against RB centered on its marketing practices for Suboxone Film, which included falsely claiming that the drug was safer and less prone to abuse than other similar medications, and improperly promoting its use for purposes other than treating addiction. The company also allegedly took steps to block generic versions of the drug from entering the market, including engaging in anticompetitive practices.
The non-prosecution agreement marked the end of a years-long investigation by the DOJ`s criminal division and the US Attorney`s Office for the Western District of Virginia. As part of the agreement, RB agreed to cooperate fully with ongoing investigations, implement strict compliance measures, and forfeit $647 million in profits gained from the sale of Suboxone Film.
The case against RB was just one of many legal actions taken in recent years against pharmaceutical companies accused of fueling the opioid epidemic in the US. More than 400,000 people have died from opioid-related overdoses since 1999, and many have laid blame at the feet of drug manufacturers and distributors.
While the non-prosecution agreement means that RB will not face criminal charges, the company has still faced significant financial and reputational damage as a result of the case. The $1.4 billion settlement is among the largest ever in a healthcare fraud case, and RB has also been subject to lawsuits from state and local governments seeking damages related to the opioid crisis.
In addition, the case has highlighted the need for greater transparency and oversight in the pharmaceutical industry, particularly when it comes to the marketing and sale of potentially addictive drugs. The DOJ`s investigation shed light on the ways in which companies like RB can use their influence to block competition and mislead the public, leading to dangerous and even deadly consequences.
As the US continues to grapple with the opioid epidemic, it is likely that more cases like the one against RB will arise. However, by holding companies accountable for their actions and working to prevent similar offenses in the future, regulators and law enforcement officials can help to mitigate the impact of the crisis and ensure that patients have access to safe and effective treatments.
17 augustus 2023