NHS sue Gaviscon maker

NHS to sue Gaviscon makers Reckitt Benckiser

NHS to sue Gaviscon makers Reckitt Benckiser

The makers of Gaviscon face legal action from the NHS for abusing it’s market position in the supply of heartburn remedies to the National Health Service.

According to High Court documents, Reckitt Benckiser, was fined £10m last year for abusing their dominant market position.

Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley is rumoured to be leading the inquest on behalf of the health authorities and primary care trusts.

A spokesman for Reckitt said the company could not comment as it had not been served with any papers.

Documents at the High Court show that Reckitt is being sued by not only Andrew Lansley but 10 Strategic Health Authorities and 144 Primary Care Trusts in England.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said in October last year that the company had actively constrained any competition in the supply of heartburn medicines.

After Gavisson’s patent expired in 2005 the household products maker withdrew the original product from the NHS but replaced it was Gaviscon Advance Liquid which patients were transferred too before a generic name was assigned to the medicine.

That meant that prescriptions were issued for Gaviscon Advance, rather than pharmacists being able to choose a cheaper generic alternative.

The OFT’s inquiry followed an investigation by the BBC’s Newsnight programme in 2008.

Gaining a gross margin of 77% in 2003, Gaviscon is one of the most regularly prescribed medicines within the NHS.

The chief executive of the OFT, John Fingleton, said at the time: “This case underlines our determination to prevent companies with a dominant position in a market from using their strength to seek to restrict competition from rivals”.

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