Reckitt Benckiser has admitted a breach of UK and European competition laws that prohibit abuse of a dominant position through its decision to withdraw Gaviscon Original Liquid from the NHS prescription channel in 2005. By removing this product before the patent protection ran out, GPs could not issue 'open' prescriptions which would allow pharmacies to dispense equivalent, cheaper medicines. Instead, GP searches reverted to Gaviscon Advanced Liquid which is patent protected until 2016, thereby generating more prescriptions for Reckitt Benckiser products. The OFT found this conduct to be in breach of both the Chapter II prohibition under the Competition Act 1998 and Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
The fine imposed on Reckitt Benckiser was reduced from a proposed £12 million to £10.2 million due to the early admission and cooperation of Reckitt Benckiser after the Statement of Objections was issued by the OFT. The fine is the highest imposed by the OFT on a company that has abused its dominant position and is the first such penalty since 2003.
106/10 - 15 October 2010