Finsbury Works Reckitt's Record $1.4B Opioid Deal - Thu., Jul. 11, 2019

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

Suboxone maker Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB Group) will pay the USA government a record $1.4 billion to end criminal and civil probes into the marketing of its addiction treatment medication, making it the largest settlement related to the opioid crisis in US history, authorities said on Thursday.

The company says it "acted lawfully at all times and expressly denies all allegations that it engaged in any wrongful conduct" but the settlement was in the best interest of RB and shareholders. Laxman Narasimhan is to take over as chief executive in September, replacing Rakesh Kapoor.

Finsbury's Faeth Birch and Philip Walters rep RB.

The Department of Justice said the scheme - which resulted in thousands of opioid-addicted patients using the drug - began before Indivior spun out of Reckitt in 2014.

But the indictment said that Indivior sought to boost sales by exaggerating the safety of Suboxone Film and connecting patients with doctors who were known to over-prescribe it and other opioids, taking advantage of the country's huge opioid addiction crisis.

Shares in Reckitt, whose products range from Mucinex cold medicine to Lysol cleaners and Durex condoms, closed up 2.5 percent for the day.

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The settlement is the largest recovery for opioid drug mis-marketing in U.S. history, according to the Department of Justice, and is made up of $647m to the federal government, $700m to states and $50m to the Federal Trade Commission. But investors feared the U.S. investigations could hinder the company's transformation. Thursday's settlement was only with RB Group, and not Indivior.

An indictment back in April claimed Indivior had marketed its star drug as safer and less abusable than other treatments, deceiving healthcare providers and allowing the company to rake in billions of dollars in extra sales.

The settlement is the largest financial penalty issued that's tied to the opioid crisis, according to the report.

"Because the fine will be met through existing borrowing facilities and cash flow, Narasimhan will inherit a company in slightly straitened circumstances, particularly as the balance sheet had already been stretched by the 2017 acquisition of Mead Johnson for an eye-watering US$17bn".

The settlement means the British consumer goods giant will have to raise the amount of money it has set aside to cover the cost of the investigations to $1.5 billion, from an earlier provision of $400 million, the company said on Thursday. "However, shareholders of consumer goods firm Reckitt Benckiser have reacted surprisingly well to news of today's big settlement with USA authorities".

Separately, Indivior also raised its full-year profit and revenue guidance, after Suboxone lost market share at a slower pace than expected.

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