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(SAN FRANCISCO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today announced that, as part of an $80 million settlement with major drug companies to resolve a vitamin price-fixing case, $12.98 million will be distributed to 28 California nonprofit groups to provide nutrition services and public health advocacy.
"Californians in great need of nutritional help, including the poor, seniors, HIV/AIDS victims and Alzheimer's victims, will receive food because of this settlement." said Lockyer. "The organizations that provide these services work tirelessly and selflessly to assist the most vulnerable among us. These funds will help them perform a role that is vital to our community's well-being."
Lockyer made today's announcement in San Francisco, where he presented checks to four recipient organizations. They include:
The Glide Foundation, which will receive $200,000 to distribute free meals in San Francisco's Tenderloin District; On Lok Day Services, which will receive $145,000 to feed seniors at its San Francisco facility and provide home-delivered meals to seniors; Project Open Hand, which will receive $100,000 to provide home-delivered meals to individuals with HIV/AIDS and other critical illnesses in San Francisco and Alameda counties; and the Institute on Aging, which will receive $68,016 to provide nutritional services to San Francisco seniors with Alzheimer's disease.
The checks Lockyer distributed covered the first installment on the total payment to be received by each of the groups. The check amounts were $90,000 for the Glide Foundation, $65,250 for On Lok Day Services, $45,000 for Project Open Hand and $30,607 for the Institute on Aging.
The $12.98 million for the nutrition and public health advocacy programs is part of $14.47 million that will be provided in the first-phase distribution of some $38 million from the vitamin settlement, originally reached in October 2000. Other major recipients of Phase I settlement funds include the California Food Bank System ($7.2 million), California Food Policy Advocates ($1 million) and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy ($801,130).
The balance of the $14.47 million in Phase I funds goes to Lockyer's office to help finance antitrust enforcement ($1 million), and to the American Antitrust Institute ($496,800).
The settlement of the vitamin antitrust case resolved claims by the State of California, represented by Lockyer, and private class-action lawsuits filed by consumers and businesses. Attorneys from the law firms of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein in San Francisco, and Saveri & Saveri in San Francisco, served as co-liaison counsel for a team of firms that represented the class-action plaintiffs. The co-liaison counsel played key roles with Lockyer in negotiating the settlement and supervising the distribution of settlement funds.
Groups that receive funds from the settlement must go through a rigorous review and approval process administered by Harry Snyder, former head of the West Coast Regional Office of Consumers Union. Snyder reviews the grant applications and makes funding recommendations to Lockyer and the class-action counsel. Lockyer and the private lawyers consider Snyder's recommendations, then submit a list of recipients to the San Francisco County Superior Court for approval.
Judge John E. Munter on September 8, 2004 approved the Phase I distribution plan. He has scheduled a hearing on November 24, 2004 to consider a motion to approve Phase II. Funds distributed in Phase II will be allocated to programs focused on nutritional and health outreach, professional education and food quality.
The settled antitrust litigation targeted three Japanese and three European drug companies which together controlled about 80 percent of the world vitamin market. The companies allegedly conspired to fix prices for such vitamins as A, C, E, H, several B vitamins and carotenoids. The companies included Aventis Animal Nutrition, BASF Corp., Daiichi Pharmaceutical, Eisai Company, Hoffman-LaRoche and Takeda Chemical.