Reckitt faces 89 mln stg UK lawsuit over Gaviscon

LONDON, April 17 Sun Apr 17, 2011 7:39am EDT

LONDON, April 17 (Reuters) - Britain's health authorities are suing consumer goods group Reckitt Benckiser (RB.L) for 89 million pounds ($145.6 million)over the supply of its heartburn medicine Gaviscon, the company said on Sunday.

"We will be vigorously defending it (the lawsuit)," a Reckitt spokeswoman said.

In October, Reckitt was fined 10.2 million pounds by the Office of Fair Trading after admitting abuse of its dominant position in Britain for the supply of Gaviscon. [ID:nLDE69E075]

Reckitt admitted infringing British and European competition law by withdrawing and delisting Gaviscon Liquid original from Britain's National Health Service (NHS) prescription service in 2005 and replacing it with a different-formula Gaviscon Liquid advance, for which there is no generic rival.

It meant that when family doctors searched for the product under the Gaviscon brand, the NHS prescription database would find only the advance version -- which is still patent protected -- and no cheaper generic alternatives. (Reporting by Mark Potter; Editing by Mike Nesbit) ($1=.6111 pounds)

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