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Reckitt Benckiser to pay record $1.4bn fine over opioid sales

Christian Fernsby |
Reckitt Benckiser has agreed to pay a $1.4bn fine to settle a US investigation into sales of a treatment for addiction to opioids by its former prescription drugs business Indivior.

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The maker of Nurofen and Durex said it had reached a deal with the US Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission to resolve the long-running inquiry into sales and marketing of Suboxone Film, an opioid-based drug.

Reckitt said it acted lawfully at all times but had agreed to settle to draw a line under the investigations and avoid further costs and uncertainty. Paying the fine, the highest single penalty so far imposed on a firm involved in the US opioids crisis, also protects the company’s participation in US government programmes, Reckitt said.

The FTSE 100 company said: “After careful consideration, the board … determined that the agreement is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders. It avoids the costs, uncertainty and distraction associated with continued investigations, litigation and the potential for an indictment.”

In April, the justice department charged Indivior with fraudulently claiming that Suboxone Film, an opioid-based drug, was better and safer than similar drugs when it was not. The company, owned by Reckitt until 2014, also referred patients to doctors that it knew were prescribing opioids in a careless manner, the indictment said.

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