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$700M deal reached to settle marketing opioid in New York, other states

New York and five other states on Wednesday reached a settlement with pharmaceutical distributor Reckitt Benckiser Group after the firm was accused of improperly marketing a drug that led to misuse using of state Medicaid funds, Attorney General Letitia James’s office on Wednesday announced.

New York’s Medicaid program will receive more than $71.9 million in recovery funds.

The company had marketed a drug, known as Suboxone, that is meant to treat opioid addiction by avoiding or reducing symptoms while undergoing treatment. But the drug contains an active ingredient known as buprenorphine, considered a powerful and addictive opioid itself.

In addition to the payments, Reckitt has entered into a separate non-prosecution agreement.

“Pharmaceutical companies have a basic duty to ensure that they are properly disclosing and marketing powerful drugs,” said Attorney General Letitia James in a statement. “Reckitt misled the public about the real impacts of Suboxone and encouraged physicians to wrongly prescribe it, while cheating New York out of tens of millions of dollars in the process. No company is above the law and we will continue to take on anyone who takes advantage of the opioid crisis to increase their bottom line.”

Read more from the NY State of Politics blog