Why did the Indivior share price crash 40% on Friday?

The Indivior share price has just slumped, but it has still more than doubled in 2020. I take a look at the news to see what’s happened.

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Drug manufacturer Indivior (LSE: INDV) had been soaring in 2020. In fact, as of market close Thursday, the Indivior share price had more than trebled so far this year. But that came to a crunching halt Friday with a whopping 40% crash. Indivior is still ahead more than 100% year-to-date, but what’s happened?

Indivior was spun out of Reckitt Benckiser in 2014. And news emerged Friday that its parent has filed a $1bn lawsuit against it. The claim was, apparently, filed on 13 November. It involves an indemnity agreement between the two companies, signed at the time of their parting.

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In its announcement, Indivior said: “The claim has not been served on the company and the company does not have any further details at this time. The company will assess with its advisors the background and merits to the case and will provide an update in due course.

More legal pressure for Indivior

So we don’t have the details yet. But it’s telling that Indivior has been facing lawsuits related to its opioid dependency treatment Suboxone. The opioid dependency scandal is huge in the US. But it had seemed the matter was resolved after a previous US court case.

On 13 November, Indivior told us that “a United States federal court in the Western District of Virginia has approved the agreement between the group and the U.S. Department of Justice and other government agencies that was announced on July 24. The court has also dismissed all charges that were returned by a grand jury in April 2019.”

The company added that it “is pleased to put this matter behind it and move forward in a manner that provides certainty to its business.” That certainty has now been shattered.

Thought it was all over?

As part of the earlier agreement, Indivior had to pay $600m. Prior to that, in October, former CEO Shaun Thaxter had received a six-month jail sentence on charges relating to misrepresentation of the safety of Suboxone. Reckitt Benckiser had had to stump up $1,4bn to try to put it all behind it. And if that wasn’t enough, Indivior has been trying to fight off generic competitors who claim its patent has expired.

That’s quite a story for a FTSE 250 company that, by Friday afternoon at least, has still seen its share price double in 2020. But what now?

A tense wait

Well, we’ll clearly need to wait and find out the details of the Reckitt Benckiser lawsuit. And how nice of Indivior to release the news on a Friday, to give investors time to stew over the weekend with no real hope of further information.

Perhaps obviously, I wouldn’t buy now. But I generally wouldn’t invest in a company that’s been facing big legal problems anyway. And definitely not one connected with the US opioid dependency drama.

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Alan Oscroft has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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