Barnett Announces Antitrust Settlement
With Vitamin Manufacturers
(Pierre) – Attorney General Barnett today announced an historic $255 million nationwide antitrust settlement with six major vitamin manufacturers over price-fixing charges.
Three European and three Japanese companies, which together control more than 80 percent of the world’s vitamin market, agreed to settle charges that they had conspired to fix prices and control the sale of vitamins and vitamin products.
The alleged conspiracy resulted in consumers and businesses paying an extra quarter of a billion dollars for products over the past decade.
The vitamins made by the companies go into a wide variety of everyday products including bread, milk, breakfast cereal, juices, baby food, pet food, dietary supplements, animal feed, and beauty products including creams, lipstick, and hair care products.
South Dakota’s share of the settlement is approximately $900,000, of which $800,000 will be used to fund programs in areas including prenatal care, nutrition, and hunger.
"This is one of the biggest antitrust settlements South Dakota has ever been involved in," Barnett said. "Upon final approval of this settlement, we will make sure this money goes to some worthwhile programs that will benefit the citizens of our State."
The six companies are: Hoffman-La Roche Inc., BASF Corp., Aventis Animal Nutrition S.A. (formerly Rhone-Poulenc Animal Nutrition), Takeda Chemical Industries Ltd., Eisai Co. Ltd, and Daiichi Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.
Under terms of the settlements, consumers and businesses in 21 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia will receive $225 million to compensate them for the higher prices resulting from the price-fixing. The consumer portion of the settlement totals $117.6 million. South Dakota’s consumer portion will go to fund the nutritional programs listed above because it is impossible to identify the final purchasers and how much extra was paid for the final products containing the vitamins.
An additional business settlement fund totaling $107.6 million will be available to businesses nationwide, including farmers and grocery store owners, that were harmed by the price-fixing. In the next few months, notice will be posted in newspapers and trade journals alerting those affected as how to file claims.
In addition, 47 state governments are entitled to receive a total of close to $30 million for overcharges on state purchases of products containing vitamins. South Dakota will receive $100,000 of the states’ total.
The settlement covers numerous pending private class action suits, along with suits brought by individual state attorneys general on behalf of businesses and consumers within their states. The settlements of the consumer and business suits must be approved by individual state courts.