Vitamin Price Fixing Investigation Expanded
Last week it was disclosed that small vitamin producers may face charges in an expanding federal price-fixing investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. These companies include Takeda Chemical Industries, Ltd., of Japan, a U.S. unit of Germany's Degussa, Chinook Group, Ltd., and others.
This announcement follows price-fixing charges filed in late May by the Justice Department against three large companies, Roche Holding AG, BASF AG, and Rhone Poulenc. These companies are alleged to have formed a cartel to fix prices and control the supply of bulk vitamins used, for example, in animal feeds. It is alleged that from 1990 until last February, this group held annual meetings and made secret agreements involving vitamin pricing and sales volume.
Roche agreed to pay the Department of Justice $500 million and BASF agreed to pay $225 million. Rhone Poulenc cooperated with the government by disclosing information about the cartel. As a result, it was spared punishment.
Canada and the European Commission are now performing a similar antitrust investigation.
A number of class action claims have been filed in Texas by animal feed companies, livestock farmers and retail vitamin producers.
Some of the bulk vitamins at issue are Vitamins A, B2, B4, B5, C, E and carotene. In March, a Swiss vitamin manufacturer and others pleaded guilty to price-fixing vitamin B3. The question now is: how much would consumers and corporations have paid for vitamins if this alleged international cartel had not rigged prices? To date, no actions on behalf of health care or medical insurance entities have been filed.
For more information on what this investigation may mean to you, please contact one of the attorneys listed below.
This Update was prepared by Lynanne B. Wescott, an attorney in Saul Ewing's Litigation Department. For more information please contact Robert N. de Luca, William A. DeStefano, John B. Reiss, Troy S. Brown or James A. Keller at (215) 972-7777.
Note: Posted articles are for general information only and should not be considered legal advice.