Maine has been awarded about $5 million as part of a $700 million, multi-state legal settlement with the distributor of a drug meant to fight opioid addiction, Attorney General Aaron M. Frey said Friday.

The lawsuit accused pharmaceutical distributor Reckitt Benckiser Group with improperly marketing the drug Suboxone, leading to allegations of Medicaid fraud and inappropriate use of the drug. Among the allegations were charges that patients were being prescribed the drug without any counseling, and for uses that were unsafe, ineffective and medically unnecessary.

Suboxone was approved to suppress withdrawal symptoms. Its active ingredient is buprenorphine, an addictive opioid.

Reckitt, an English company, also was accused of attempting to delay the entry of generics into the market and control pricing by fraudulently telling the Food and Drug Administration in 2012 that the tablet form of the drug had been discontinued because of safety concerns.

“The opioid crisis is one of the biggest challenges facing our state, so allegations that a company would improperly market Suboxone outside of a complete treatment plan are concerning,” Frey said. “I applaud the work of our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in assisting with this settlement agreement and recovering significant resources for the state.”



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