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Good News: Dr. Reddy’s Will Produce a Cheaper Generic Form of Suboxone

Suboxone—a medication used to treat opioid use disorder—is sadly inaccessible to a lot of people due to one simple factor: cost.

But this is about to change.

Last month, a supplier of generic drugs—Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories—was allowed by a Delaware Court to produce a generic version of the costly drug. It’s a ruling that could potentially save countless lives because many people suffering from substance abuse don’t have insurance or, if they do, their insurers don’t cover the cost of Suboxone films.

The generic name for Suboxone is buprenorphine-naloxone. Suboxone films tend to cost about 9 or 10 dollars per strip—added together, a month of this medication gets pricey, especially without insurance. This unaffordable sum blocks access to medication-assisted treatment for people in desperate need of help. Despite this, Suboxone manufacturers Indivior have until this recent court decision had a monopoly on the drug.

The FDA Takes a Stand Against Suboxone Manufacturer

Senior writer and Pharmalot columnist at The Boston Globe health and medicine site Ed Silverman told Alcoholism and Drug Abuse weekly about the next steps for Dr Reddy’s (or any other company seeking to make generic buprenorphine-naloxone). He explained that companies first need approval from the Food and Drug Administration, but Indivior can still go to court to file a patent infringement lawsuit.

Even with this probable litigation pending, the new FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, M.D., stated that the FDA would attempt to accelerate reviews of generic applications so that more are approved in hopes of fighting the current deadly opioid epidemic.

According to Silverman, when a generic version of a medication becomes available, the cost of its brand-name counterpart can decrease by 70-80% in just a few weeks. There’s also a financial impact on the revenue of Suboxone once the generic version becomes available, as there’s the potential to lose its monopolization of the market.

Big Pharma Fights Back

In response to this ruling, Indivior CEO Shaun Thaxter said: “Today’s news is disappointing to Indivior, given the belief that the Company has in its intellectual property for Suboxone Film… We will appeal the ruling and defend our intellectual property… As always, our unwavering focus is on addressing the unmet needs of opioid-dependent patients. On behalf of the millions of patients who struggle to overcome opioid addiction, the majority of whom need help but go untreated, we remain relentless in our pursuit to transform addiction from a global human crisis to a recognized and treated disease.”

One can’t help but wonder why Suboxone is prohibitively expensive to some if this company is so concerned with helping the millions of Americans dealing with opioid use disorder. And why are millions of Americans still dying every year from opioid overdoses when there’s treatment available? The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recently issued the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which stated that as the opioid crisis continues, so does the availability of MAT—but it’s still not enough to meet the growing demand.

How to Find Help for Drug or Alcohol Misuse

If you or a loved one is struggling with problem drug or alcohol use, help is available and recovery is possible. Professional treatment can start anyone suffering with addiction on the path to a healthier and happier life. American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading treatment provider and has trusted rehab programs across the country. For helpful advice, information, or admissions, please contact a caring AAC representative free at . You can also check your health insurance coverage using the form below.

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