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UPDATE 1-Former Indivior CEO pleads guilty in U.S. in opioid addiction treatment probe

Tue, 30th Jun 2020 21:48

(Adds further details on case, background on investigation)

By Nate Raymond

June 30 (Reuters) - Shaun Thaxter, the former chief
executive of drugmaker Indivior Plc, pleaded guilty on
Tuesday to a criminal charge arising out of a U.S. Justice
Department investigation into the marketing of its opioid
addiction treatment Suboxone.

Thaxter pleaded guilty in federal court in Abingdon,
Virginia to a single misdemeanor count of introducing misbranded
drugs into interstate commerce. The plea came a day after the
company said he was stepping down as CEO.

Prosecutors said Thaxter failed to prevent employees from
sharing false and misleading safety information about the drug
with Massachusetts' Medicaid program as it considered expanding
coverage for it.

Thaxter faces up to one year in prison when he is sentenced
on Sept. 29 and has agreed to pay $600,000 in fines and
forfeitures, the Justice Department said. His attorney did not
respond to requests for comment.

The plea came after Indivior in April 2019 was indicted and
charged with engaging in an illegal scheme to boost
prescriptions of Suboxone in one of the few corporate
prosecutions related to the U.S. opioid addiction
epidemic.

Prosecutors 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 spun off Indivior.
Reckitt Benckiser in July 2019 agreed to pay $1.4 billion to
resolved related claims.

Slough, England-based Indivior has called the indictment
"wholly unsupported by either the facts or the law." It is
scheduled to face trial in September.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston
Editing by Chris Reese and Marguerita Choy)

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