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Editor's blog Tuesday 22 February 2011: The private sector - isn't it great?

Simon Bowers of The Guardian reports that SOS Lansley and the NHS's PCTs and SHAs have filed high court proceedings against Reckitt Benckiser.

This comes, with serendipitous timing, on the day after PM David 'That Nice Mr' Cameron's cri de coeur against state monopolies and on behalf of greater competition.

The Guardian article speculates that the Reckitt Benckiser case may be related to the OFT action over Gaviscon against the company, which we reported last year.

The OFT prosecution followed on from BBC News picking up (thanks to an internal Reckitt Benckiser whistleblower) on the existence of 'Project Eric', which appears to be nothing less than blatant market-fixing efforts by Reckitt Benckiser executives.

Research by BBC Newsnight in 2008 showed that Reckitt Benckiser had spent years successfully delaying the introduction of a generic name competitor to Gaviscon, on grounds of patient safety, and also planned to erect "a further barrier to competitors" and to "restrict entry for new competitors".

Yes, this is the kind of behaviour of which we want to see more in the public sector. In the words of the economist Adam Smith in Wealth Of Nations, "people of the same trade seldom meet together ... but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices".