Alka Seltzer fizz for Asda

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The Independent Online
Supermarket giant Asda was banned by the High Court yesterday from selling the famous tummy-settler Alka Seltzer at below the price set under the Resale Price Maintenance agreement on over-the-counter medicines.

The product's makers, the German drug company Bayer, were granted a temporary injunction, pending a further hearing in a week's time, after Asda's refusal to increase the price of the larger 30-tablet packs by 10 per cent.

Asda reacted immediately by withdrawing the larger packs of Alka Seltzer from sale at its 207 stores. The company's corporate lawyer, Nick Cooper, said: "We do not believe a price increase of five times the rate of inflation can be justified."

Asda launched its campaign last October, cutting the cost of 82 brand vitamins by up to 20 per cent. It was forced to reinstate full prices when manufacturers won a court injunction. In June, Asda slashed the price of Anadin Paracetamol, but was again thwarted by High Court action. Mr Cooper said after yesterday's ruling that a report on RPM by the Office of Fair Trading was expected shortly and might recommend a full court review of price fixing.