Nebraska has joined more than 30 other states in filing an antitrust lawsuit against the makers of Suboxone, claiming the company blocked generic competitors, keeping the price of the opioid addiction treatment artificially high.
The states accuse Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, now known as Indivior, of conspiring with MonoSol Rx to switch Suboxone from a tablet version to a film that dissolves in the mouth to keep generics from coming on the market, spoiling its monopoly profits.
Suboxone is used to treat heroin addiction and other opioid addictions.
The lawsuit claims Reckitt moved to maintain its exclusivity protection by working with MonoSol to change the form of the drug with no significant change to its makeup.
Attorneys general from the states allege the conduct was illegal “product hopping,” in which companies make minor changes to extend patent protections, blocking other companies from entering the market with lower-priced generic medications. The attorneys general allege consumers have paid artificially high monopoly prices since 2009. During that time, annual sales of Suboxone topped $1 billion, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, accuses the companies of violating the federal Sherman Act and state laws.
Attorneys general of the following jurisdictions also joined the lawsuit: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.