(Reuters) - Indivior Plc (INDV.L) has agreed to pay $600 million and have a subsidiary plead guilty to a felony charge to resolve U.S. allegations that it engaged in an illegal scheme to boost prescriptions of its opioid addiction treatment Suboxone.
The U.S. Justice Department announced the agreement on Friday after the subsidiary, Indivior Solutions Inc, pleaded guilty in Abingdon, Virginia, to making false statements related to healthcare matters.
The agreement came after the parent company was indicted in April 2019 in one of the few corporate prosecutions related to the U.S. opioid addiction epidemic.
The indictment alleged Indivior deceived doctors and healthcare benefit programs into believing the film version of Suboxone, which has an opioid component, was safer and less susceptible to abuse than similar drugs.
The indictment said Indivior also used an internet and telephone program touted as a resource for opioid addicts to connect them to doctors it knew were prescribing Suboxone and other opioids at high rates and in suspect circumstances.
Prosecutors said the scheme began before British consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser (RB.L) spun off Indivior. Reckitt Benckiser last year agreed to pay $1.4 billion to resolved related claims.
In its guilty plea, Indivior Solutions admitted to part of the scheme, that it sent misleading safety information about the drug to Massachusetts’ Medicaid program, the department said.
Indivior’s former chief executive, Shaun Thaxter, pleaded guilty last month to a related misdemeanor charge.
Indivior as part of Friday’s deal agreed to disband its Suboxone sales force and remove medical providers from its promotional programs who pose a high risk of inappropriate prescribing.
The company is also settling related civil lawsuits the Justice Department joined in 2018. It will pay $10 million to resolve claims by the Federal Trade Commission that it impeded competition from generic equivalents of Suboxone.
Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Aurora Ellis