LONDON (Reuters) - British consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser is to withdraw its Suboxone heroin treatment tablets in favor of a film version in the United States over the next six months due to the higher risk of children getting hold of the tablets.
Although its 30-tablet bottles come with child-proof tops, recovering heroin addicts who take the tablets can leave the tops off the bottles and so there is a greater risk of children taking them compared with the individually sealed film treatment. The active ingredients of both products are the same.
Reckitt has been encouraging the use of its film version, which melts on the tongue, as it fears the entry of generic competition to its tablets. The film has taken around 60-70 percent of the Suboxone market in the United States.
Reckitt said on Tuesday it will discontinue the supply of the tablets after data from the U.S. Poison Control Centers showed that tablets were 7.8 to 8.5 times more likely to be taken by children than the film version.
The company's pharmaceutical division, which makes around 22 percent of group profits, relies on Suboxone for the bulk of its annual sales.
It added that the tablets will be discontinued within the next six months, possibly sooner, depending on talks with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Reporting by David Jones; Editing by Mark Potter