North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp and its manufacturing arm Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co were alleged to have breached antitrust laws over the prices and the supply of vitamin C from December 2001 to June 2006
In 2013 a jury came to the conclusion that the companies had conspired to coordinate prices to create a shortage of vitamin C sold outside China. The judge awarded $147.8m in damages and ordered the firms not to engage in similar beheviour in the future.
However, last week the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said the case should not have gone to trial because Chinese laws required the companies to act in manner that violated US antitrust laws.
This meant the original verdict did not take into account the significant legal differences between the two countries, and therefore should be overturned.
In a written judgement, circuit judge Peter Hall stated: "Recognizing China's strong interest in its protectionist economic policies and given the direct conflict between Chinese policy and our antitrust laws, we conclude that China's interests outweigh whatever antitrust enforcement interests the United States may have in this case.”
US buyers of vitamin C including Ranis Co, a food company, and Animal Science Products Inc, a livestock supplement company, filed the suit arguing prices rocketed from around $2.50 a kilogramme to $15.
Listed on the Shanghai stock exchange, North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp NCPC currently produces over 430 pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and veterinary products.