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Reckitt Benckiser accused of rigging market with Gaviscon

Reckitt Benckiser has been accused of rigging the market for the NHS supply of its heartburn medicine Gaviscon

By Newsteam

Reckitt Benckiser has been accused of rigging the market for the NHS supply of its heartburn medicine Gaviscon.

The Office of Fair Trading alleges that the company has abused it dominant position in the market and sought to restrict competition to its Gaviscon brand by withdrawing NHS packs of Gaviscon Original Liquid from the prescription channel.

The OFT claims the withdrawal was deliberately timed to occur before the publication of the generic name of the product within prescribing systems, which would mean that any searches for “Gaviscon” would identify Gaviscon Advance Liquid — which is patent protected until 2016 — and not Gaviscon Original Liquid, for which alternatives can be prescribed.

The patent for Gaviscon Original Liquid ended in 1997 and its withdrawal from the NHS prescription channel took place in 2005, ahead of publication of its generic name in prescribing systems.

Simon Williams, senior director for goods at the OFT, said: “This case raises significant and complex competition issues relating to the supply of prescription drugs to the NHS.

“Reckitt Benckiser will now have a full opportunity to respond to our proposed findings before we decide whether competition law has in fact been infringed.”

A spokeswoman for Reckitt Benckiser stressed that no assumptions should be made about the OFT allegation at this stage. She added that Gaviscon Advance is a second-generation product that is superior to Gaviscon Original.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10998738

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