Reckitt Benckiser has been fined £10.2m by the Office of Fair Trading for abusing its market position to protect its Gaviscon anti-heartburn brand.
The penalty was reduced from £12m after Reckitt admitted breaching UK and European competition law.
The company withdrew and de-listed Gaviscon Original Liquid from the NHS prescription channel in 2005 so prescriptions would be issued for Gaviscon Advance instead of generic alternatives to the Original line, whose patent had expired.
“This case underlines our determination to prevent companies with a dominant position in a market using their strength to seek to restrict competition from rivals,” said OFT chief executive John Fingleton.
“We welcome Reckitt Benckiser's early co-operation, which will enable the swift resolution of this complex case and will reduce the costs of the investigation both for the OFT and for the company itself.”
The ruling comes with the OFT and the Competition Commission set to merge in a cost-cutting drive by the coalition government.
Competition Commission set for OFT merger (15 October 2010)
Reckitt facing OFT probe over Gaviscon ‘abuse’ claims (23 February 2010)