Vitamin Companies Agree to Pay $25 Million in Price-Fixing Settlement


A handful of vitamin manufacturers have reportedly reached a $25 million settlement with the Attorneys General from 23 states regarding a class-action lawsuit over an alleged price-fixing scheme. The companies involved were accused of artificially inflating the prices of more than 15 vitamins between 1988 and 2000. Businesses from the 23 states that purchased vitamins during that time period could be entitled to money from the settlement, though the funds will be dispersed through government and non-profit organizations.

With more than $8.5 billion in supplement sales in 2008, the U.S. vitamin industry has turned in positive year-over-year growth in each of the 13 years that Nutrition Business Journal has been tracking the category—making vitamins the most popular supplement in the United States. While the settlement can be viewed as a victory for vitamin consumers, the lawsuit serves as a black eye for the vitamin industry, which has already been rocked by one price-fixing scandal. In the mid-1990s, vitamin manufacturer Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) agreed to pay $100 million in fines for its role in a vitamin price-fixing conspiracy.

The settlement is still pending approval in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. More information regarding the companies, vitamins and states involved in the settlement are listed below.

Companies: Akzo Nobel Inc.; Bioproducts Incorporated, Mitsui & Co., Ltd. and Mitsui & Co. (U.S.A.), Inc.; Chinook Global Limited and Chinook Group, Inc.; Evonik Degussa GmbH, successor to Degussa AG, and Evonik Degussa Corporation; Lonza AG; Merck KGaA, E. Merck and EM Industries, Inc.; Nepera, Inc.; Sumitomo Chemical America, Inc. and Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd.; Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation and Tanabe U.S.A., Inc.; UCB Pharma, Inc.; and, Vertellus Specialties Inc. and Vertellus Chemicals SA.

Vitamins: vitamin A, astaxanthin, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B4 (choline chloride), vitamin B5 (calpan), vitamin B6, vitamin B9 (folic acid), vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamine pharma), beta-carotene, vitamin C, canthaxanthin, vitamin E, and vitamin H (biotin), as well as all blends and forms of these vitamins.

States: Arizona, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Related NBJ Links:
Price Reductions on the Way for Vitamin B2 Market?
RMIS Price Volatility Looks To Be Subsiding for Now
Vitamin Category Struggles with Disappointing News

Related Functional Ingredients magazine links:
Better, Not Bitter, Says Whitacre

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