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Chinese Vitamin C Makers’ Price-Fixing Trial Set for Nov. 5

China Pharmaceutical Group Ltd. and several other Chinese makers of vitamin C will face a Nov. 5 trial in the U.S. for alleged price-fixing, a federal judge said.

U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan in Brooklyn, New York, today set the date in a case brought by purchasers of vitamin C. In January, the judge allowed the buyers to proceed with their case as a group against the vitamin makers.

Other companies sued in the case include Weisheng Pharmaceutical Co., North China Pharmaceutical Co., Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co. and Northeast Pharmaceutical Group Co.

The vitamin companies have argued that the Chinese government forced them to fix prices. The judge rejected that contention in a September ruling.

“The Chinese law relied upon by defendants did not compel their illegal conduct,” he wrote.

Aland (Jiangsu) Nutraceutical Co., another Chinese firm named in the lawsuit, settled with plaintiffs in May for $10.5 million, according to court filings.

Dominant Players

Livestock supplement firm Animal Science Products Inc., based in Nacogdoches, Texas, and Elizabeth, N.J.-based food firm The Ranis Co. filed a complaint in 2005 accusing the Chinese companies of conspiring to inflate prices for bulk vitamin C.

The vitamin makers, dominant players in a roughly $500 million global market, formed a cartel in 2001, according to the complaint.

Lawyers for the Chinese firms, including Charles Critchlow of Baker & McKenzie, Richard Goldstein of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP and Daniel Mason of Zelle Hofmann Voelbel & Mason LLP, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the trial date.

The case is In Re Vitamin C Antitrust Litigation, 1:06-md-01738, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

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