Company accused of exploiting unique features of drug to retain market share

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 13 March 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:576
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1London

    Doctors, governments, and drug regulators must watch the way drug companies operate because the dearth of new medicines is taking profit chasing to new heights, an expert has warned.

    Joe Collier, emeritus professor of drug policy at St George’s, University of London, issued his advice in the wake of an investigation by the BBC’s Newsnight programme, which suggested that Reckitt Benckiser, the makers of Gaviscon (sodium alginate and potassium bicarbonate), maintained an effective monopoly on the market for years after the drug came off patent.

    The investigation, which was broadcast last Friday, claimed that the company had created obstacles to block rival manufacturers from selling cheaper generic copies, resulting in there still being no generic version of Gaviscon almost 10 years after the product’s patent expired in 1999.

    A former employee turned whistleblower claimed on Newsnight that the company had “cheated the NHS” and that a generic formulation of Gaviscon could have saved the health service “millions of pounds.” …

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