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Drug maker to appeal US price-fixing fines

Xinhua

SHIJIAZHUANG - A major Chinese drug maker has said it will appeal massive antitrust fines ordered by a US federal court in New York.

The Brooklyn Federal Court ruled Thursday that the North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp and its affiliate Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co Ltd must pay $162 million in fines after finding that they colluded in order to raise prices for vitamin C exports to the US market.

The ruling marked the first time for a Chinese pharmaceutical company to be fined in a US antitrust case.

The NCPC said late Saturday that it would appeal the fines after receiving the official verdict from the US federal court.

The company, one of China's four-largest vitamin and antibiotic suppliers, added that it will also disclose information regarding the case's progress in a timely way.

Shares of North China Pharmaceutical Co Ltd were suspended from Friday afternoon trading in Shanghai in response to the ruling.

The ruling was the result of a lawsuit lodged by two US companies in which they accused Chinese vitamin C exporters of working together to raise prices for years, raising vitamin C prices in the US from $2.5 per kg to $15 per kg.

Another two Chinese vitamin C exporters named in the case settled the lawsuit out of court.

Xie Yongfa, an official with the Hebei provincial department of commerce, said trade protectionism in the US has been rising in recent years, with more anti-dumping cases lodged against Chinese goods.

Xie said he hopes both sides can work together to maintain a free, open and fair international trade environment, as well as deal with trade frictions in a rational way.

"The case also teaches Chinese firms a lesson: they should try to avoid violating anti-trust laws, as any related punishment could be deadly," he said.