For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: June 20, 2003

Wasden Distributes More Than $1.2 Million From Antitrust Settlement

(Boise) - More than $1.2 million is now available for additional health and nutrition services for Idaho residents, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced today. The funds are part of a previously announced settlement of an antitrust case involving price-fixing by an international vitamin cartel.

During a news conference this morning, Wasden presented five checks to improve health and nutrition in Idaho. The checks were presented to the following:

  • $525,000 to the Idaho Foodbank for improved storage facilities. In a recent year, the Idaho Foodbank had to turn away more than 100 truckloads of food, valued at $6.7 million, because it could not properly store the food;

  • $300,000 is being made available for senior centers throughout Idaho. The senior centers can apply for grants of up to $2,500 to provide nutritious meals for senior citizens;

  • $150,000 to the Idaho Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs for the Meals on Wheels program;

  • $180,000 for early childhood immunizations against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis;

  • $100,000 to the March of Dimes for promotion of use of folic acid by expectant or nursing mothers. It is estimated that folic acid use would reduce 70% of all brain and spinal cord birth defects;

"It is gratifying and just that Idahoans benefit directly from this enforcement of the Idaho Competition Act," Attorney General Wasden said. "Idahoans deserve compensation from these companies that illegally overcharged Idaho citizens, businesses and state government for more than a decade. Cases such as this demonstrate how our competition act protects both consumers and businesses from unlawful anticompetitive practices."

Attorney General Wasden said his office will contact each of the senior centers in Idaho to advise them of the settlement and how they may apply for a portion of the available money.

In October 2000 three European companies, F. Hoffman-La Roche, BASF, and Aventis (formerly Rhone-Poulenc), and three Japanese companies, Takeda Chemical Industries Ltd., Eisai Co. Ltd., and Daiichi Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., agreed to the settlement with the Idaho Attorney General's Office and the attorneys general of 20 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

The settlements were the largest ever under state laws permitting consumers and businesses to recover damages for price-fixing over-charges, even though the consumers and businesses did not buy directly from the price-fixers. Federal antitrust law does not permit these "indirect purchasers" to recover their damages, but state laws in the 23 jurisdictions, including Idaho, permit such suits.

The attorneys general had alleged that the six companies conspired for more than a decade to fix prices and restrict supplies of a variety of vitamins. The vitamins made by these companies are used in vitamin pills, foods such as milk, cereal and bread, and feed for chickens, cattle and fish.

"In addition to the consumer portion of the settlement approved by the court, the settlement allows Idaho businesses to recover their damages," Attorney General Wasden said. "The affected businesses have filed claims against the $70 million business settlement fund contained in the multi-state settlement. We were also able to recover $186,000 for Idaho taxpayers for overcharges on purchases made by state government."

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