Crazy Week for Suboxone

Originally Posted 3/3/2013

What a crazy week for buprenorphine.  I’ve written about the FDA slapping the face of Reckitt Benckiser by denying their Citizens’ Petition.  Adding insult to injury, the FDA then approved two generic formulations of Suboxone tabs (actually, the correct name is buprenorphine/naloxone combination tabs).  Stock in RB dropped about 5%, but shares regained most of their price within a couple days, reflecting the balance of pessimism vs. optimism in the company’s ability to maintain stellar profit growth going forward.

In case anyone is wondering, I do not own shares in Reckitt Benckiser, and I have never owned shares in Reckitt Benckiser.  One nice thing about NOT having significant savings, I supposed, is that I can report my holdings (or lack of holdings) without too much effort!

If I WAS an investor, though, I’d wonder about the future of Reckitt Benckiser’s Suboxone, now that two generic competitors are hitting the market.  Some patients clearly prefer the tablet over the film;  will state medicaid agencies go back to covering the tablet, which will likely be cheaper than the film?  Will insurers cover the tabs?  Or will both groups continue to buy into the marketing scheme of Reckitt-Benckiser, and the company’s claim that only the film is ‘safe’?

Many patients strongly favor the tablet over the film, and if given the opportunity to choose would definitely choose generic tablets over film.  So here is where things get interesting…..   if the generic tablets become popular, will RB go back to making tabs?  After their RADARS-assisted claim about the danger of tabs, such a move would be a clear indicator of the company’s truthfulness on the issue.