Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel is leading a 36-state lawsuit against the makers of Suboxone, the drug used to treat opioid addiction by decreasing cravings and withdrawal symptoms and blocking the effect of opioids.
Schimel and other attorneys general allege drug makers Indivior and MonoSol Rx conspired to raise false safety concerns about the tablet and change the drug from a tablet to a film that dissolves on the tongue.
Those changes extended the period when generic competitors were barred from entering the market for the film form of the drug.
Schimel said it is appropriate for companies to have a protected period when they can recoup the costs of research and development but "we're alleging they fraudulently extended their protection period by introducing the drug in a new form and then suppressing the competition on the original tablet form."
The lack of competition lead to inflated prices, according to the lawsuit.
"We have individuals who are struggling to try to get the medication they need, to try to pay for the treatment they need," Schimel said. "By making this price artificially higher, this is having a huge impact on the health of our state."
That suspected impact is likely what drew attorneys general from Hawaii to Maine to join the suit. Schimel said it is common to have as many as 20 states jointly file lawsuits, but 36 from states with varying political leanings and demographics is unusual.
A statement posted on the Indivior website said the company "intends to vigorously defend its position."