Rochester Drug Co-Op Sues Reckitt Over Heroin Treatment

Rochester Drug Co-Operative Inc., a distributor of generic drugs, sued U.K. pharmaceutical maker Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc for allegedly monopolizing the market for heroin treatment.

Reckitt developed a sublingual strip version of its Suboxone anti-addiction drug to replace the tablet form, Rochester Drug said in its lawsuit, filed today in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Delaware. This prevented competition because pharmacists wouldn’t be allowed to substitute the cheaper generic version, according to Rochester Drug’s lawsuit.

“Reckitt concocted a multifaceted anticompetitive scheme, executed over the course of several years, to maintain and extend its monopoly power,” Rochester Drug claimed in its complaint.

Suboxone is used by heroin addicts to help control the withdrawal symptoms. It costs about $8 a tablet and earned Reckitt about $1 billion in U.S. sales, according to the complaint.

Rochester Drug is seeking class-action, or group, status for the case so it can sue on behalf of itself and others who may have been harmed by Reckitt’s actions.

Dean Mastrojohn, a spokesman for Reckitt Benckiser North America, didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment on the lawsuit.

The case is Rochester Drug Co-Operative Inc. v. Reckitt Benckiser Inc., U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

To contact the reporters on this story: Steven Church in Wilmington, Delaware, at schurch3@bloomberg.net; Phil Milford in Wilmington at pmilford@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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