A rush of children breaking into their parents' bottles of heroin-replacement pills Suboxone yesterday saw its maker, Reckitt Benckiser, withdraw the medicine which last year helped to bring in £762m.
Experts at the US poison control, who monitor children's accidental ingestion of drugs, told Reckitt its tablet form of Suboxone was featuring prominently. The firm then decided to discontinue the pills in favour of its film form, which comes in single-dose, tamper-proof blister packs and which are put under the tongue.
Together, the two types gave Reckitt revenues of £762m last year. "We are voluntarily discontinuing the supply of Suboxone tablets due to increasing concerns with paediatric exposure," the firm said.
Since Suboxone launched in the US in 2003, more than three million American heroin addicts have been treated with it and Reckitt has warned up to 80 per cent of its revenues might be lost if a cheaper, copycat drug were to go on sale.