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Reckitt accused of antitrust violations for medication Suboxone

As a patient, it's always important that you can get the drugs you need when you need them. If you get hurt at work and need to get a prescription, the first thing you do is look for a generic. It's cheaper and as effective as branded drugs. If a company tries to take away your ability to access this generic, then it can be charged for malpractice, fraud and other crimes.

Maryland is among a majority of states now suing the makers of the heroin addiction treatment drug, Suboxone, for antitrust violations. The lawsuit claims that Reckitt Benckiser, which is now known as Indivior and MonoSol RX, worked to block generic competition for Suboxone by creating a dissolving film version of the drug instead of a tablet. As a result of that switch, consumers have had to pay artificially high prices for the drug since 2009, when a generic would have been able to have been put on the market otherwise.

The company claims that the allegations are without merit, and that as a small company in New Jersey with manufacturing in Indiana, they have patented technologies and high-quality items that they provide to caregivers and patients. The company's chief executive officer claims that Suboxone as a sublingual film is a product that has saved numerous lives since its approval in 2010.

Originally Suboxone was a tablet. They came out in 2002 and were placed under a patent that prevented other companies from developing generics for at least seven years. Before the patent expired, the companies Reckitt and MonoSol worked together to create a new version of this drug and then shifted the market away from the tablet, indicating that it would be better to use the film. Once most of the consumers had changed to using the film instead of the tablet, Reckitt took the tablet off the market.

For patients, this kind of negligence cost them an extensive amount of money. Health care providers also have to absorb the cost, and in some cases, when a cheaper generic alternative is not available, patients don't get the drug that they need.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Maryland among 36 states suing makers of heroin addiction treatment drug Suboxone for antitrust violations," Sarah Gantz, Sep. 23, 2016

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