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Herring helps secure $1.4B in opioid fraud case

Attorney General Mark Herring and his team have helped secure $1.4 billion from Reckitt Benckiser Group to resolve allegations of fraudulent marketing of the opioid treatment medication Suboxone.

As part of the agreement announced today by the U.S. Department of Justice, Reckitt Benckiser will forfeit $647 million in profits, pay the federal government and participating states a total of $700 million, and pay the Federal Trade Commission $50 million. According to DOJ, this is the largest ever recovery for a case involving an opioid.

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“This is a landmark moment in our fight to hold drug companies responsible for their role in the opioid crisis,” said Herring. “We will not allow anyone to put profits over people, or to exacerbate or exploit the opioid crisis for their own benefit. This is also a testament to the great work of Virginia’s best-in-the-nation Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Our expertise, capacity, and diligent investigation, combined with strong relationships with local, state, and federal partners, helped make this resolution possible.”

Herring’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit led a complex, multiyear investigation into allegations of illegal marketing of Suboxone, a prescription medication approved for use by recovering opioid addicts to avoid or reduce withdrawal symptoms while they undergo treatment. The investigation included handling mountains of documents and evidence, “e-discovery” of evidence, interviews around the country with key witnesses, and the assignment of prosecutors to work alongside the Department of Justice during potential trials.

Additional details about the alleged conduct and today’s $1.4 billion resolution are available in the news release below from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Herring continues to pursue accountability for opioid manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies that may have contributed to the opioid crisis. This includes his pending lawsuit in Tazewell County against Purdue Pharma.

Herring’s lawsuit, filed in June 2018, accuses Purdue Pharma of profiting from an opioid crisis that it helped create and prolong through a decades-long campaign of lies and misrepresentations in violation of the Virginia Consumer Protection Act. Since 2007, 8,000 Virginians have died from an opioid overdose, including 5,000 from a prescription opioid overdose.

During the same period, Purdue made false claims about the purported safety, efficacy, and benefits of its opioids, including OxyContin, pumped tens of millions of pills and patches into the Commonwealth of Virginia, and reported billions in profits.