OFT fines Reckitt Benckiser £ 10.2 million for abuse of dominance

On 15 October 2010 the Office of Fair Trading (“OFT”) stated that Reckitt Benckiser admitted infringing UK and European competition law by withdrawing and delisting Gaviscon Original Liquid from the National Health System (“NHS”) prescription channel in 2005.  Reckitt Benckiser’s admission led to the early resolution of the investigation and a reduced fine on the company.

The OFT had issued a Statement of Objection on 23 February 2010 (See Newsletter 2/2010, p. 12) alleging that Reckitt Benckiser withdrew NHS packs of Gaviscon Original Liquid from the NHS prescription channel after the product’s patent had expired but before the publication of its generic equivalent name. As a result of its abusive practice, Reckitt Benckiser expected that more prescriptions would have been issued for its alternative product, Gaviscon Advance Liquid, which is patent protected until 2016, and is not subject to competition from equivalent generic medicines.

The OFT will publish the infringement decision providing full details of its findings. [Gabriele Accardo]