Reckitt Benckiser faces allegations of market rigging

Reckitt Benckiser (RB), the owner of brands including Dettol, Clearasil and Cillit Bang, is facing allegations that it abused its dominant position in the market for heartburn drug Gaviscon by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

The OFT alleges that RB sought to restrict competition to its Gaviscon brand by withdrawing and de-listing its NHS packs of Gaviscon Original Liquid from the NHS prescription channel.

It is alleged that this move affected the choice and price competition between pharmaceutical suppliers and increased costs to the NHS.

Simon Williams, OFT senior director for goods, says: “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.”

In a statement, RB says: “The OFT has stressed that no assumptions should be made at this stage. RB believes it competes fairly and within the letter and spirit of the law in all of our operations, and has co-operated fully with the OFT throughout its inquiry.”

“Gaviscon Advance is a second generation product, superior to Gaviscon Original. Gaviscon Advance was launched to provide patients with effective and long lasting relief from heartburn and indigestion.”

The company says it will review the OFT statement and respond accordingly.

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