With big investigations involving multiple law enforcement agencies, the dominos can continue to fall long after the first conviction.
Last summer, global consumer goods conglomerate Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC (RB Group) agreed to pay $1.4 billion to resolve potential criminal and civil liability related to a federal investigation that included the OIG. The investigation centered on the marketing of an opioid addiction treatment drug, and the settlement represented the largest-ever resolution in a case brought by the Department of Justice (DOJ) involving an opioid drug.
The resolution just got even larger.
Last month, a former RB Group subsidiary – Indivior Solutions, which carried out the marketing campaign – pleaded guilty to a felony charge and, with its current parent company, agreed to pay a total of $600 million to resolve criminal and civil liability, raising the total settlement in the case to $2 billion.
According to DOJ, Indivior Solutions admitted to making false statements to promote the drug Suboxone to the Massachusetts Medicaid program. Suboxone is approved for use by recovering opioid addicts to avoid or reduce withdrawal symptoms. Suboxone also contains buprenorphine, a powerful opioid. Indivior told state health officials that Suboxone had the lowest rate of accidental pediatric exposure (children taking medication by accident) of all buprenorphine drugs in Massachusetts, when in fact, it didn’t.
The federal grand jury indictment alleged this was part of an illicit nationwide scheme to increase prescriptions of Suboxone.
“During the nationwide opioid epidemic, Indivior Solutions made false statements about Suboxone’s safety to increase its sales. In doing so, Indivior Solutions misled government health care officials and is being held accountable today for its felonious conduct,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel P. Bubar of the Western District of Virginia in a statement. “This resolution is the culmination of years of work by prosecutors and agents and demonstrates that we will continue to work tirelessly to hold pharmaceutical manufacturers responsible for illegal conduct.”
After reviewing a complaint we received about Suboxone prescriptions, the OIG determined that some U.S. Postal Service employees out on workers' compensation claims were being prescribed the drug, prompting our initial involvement in the case.
In addition to OIG special agents, our analytics group was part of a large investigating team that also included investigators from the Virginia Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit; FDA‘s Office of Criminal Investigation; and the Department of Health and Human Services OIG. Other departments’ OIGs and general counsel offices, along with U.S. and State’s Attorneys’ Offices, were involved in the resolution and criminal settlement proceedings.
To report fraud or other criminal activity involving Postal Service employees or contractors, contact our Hotline via the red box at the top of this page.