Business news in brief

People in downtown Lisbon pass a makeshift billboard calling for a workers protest to be held Thursday. Debt-heavy Portugal's hopes of avoiding a financial bailout were fading fast Wednesday as the country's borrowing rates continued to spiral upward to hit euro-era highs.
People in downtown Lisbon pass a makeshift billboard calling for a workers protest to be held Thursday. Debt-heavy Portugal's hopes of avoiding a financial bailout were fading fast Wednesday as the country's borrowing rates continued to spiral upward to hit euro-era highs.
Posted: March 31, 2011

In the Region

J&J reorganizes unit

Johnson & Johnson is reorganizing its McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit to give more attention to the business, which has been stung by around 20 recalls of products including Tylenol, Motrin, and Benadryl. The company's Fort Washington factory has been linked to millions of bottles of defective medicine. On Monday, Johnson & Johnson will make McNeil a separate organization within J&J. It had been part of a larger group of consumer health-care units. McNeil products have been the subject of repeated recalls since September 2009. Another recall was announced Tuesday, when the company pulled about 34,000 bottles of Tylenol 8 Hour off the shelves because of a musty odor. J&J is naming new leadership for the business. - AP

High court divided on warnings

U.S. Supreme Court justices signaled they were divided in a case that will determine whether generic-drug makers can be sued for not warning patients about the risk of dangerous side effects. The nine justices split into almost equal camps Wednesday as they heard arguments in a case involving units of Mylan Inc. and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., which has operations in the Philadelphia area. Two women say they contracted a severe neurological disorder as a result of long-term use of metoclopramide to treat stomach conditions. - Bloomberg News

SEPTA sues eBay, GSI Commerce

EBay Inc. and its King of Prussia takeover target, GSI Commerce Inc., were sued by investor SEPTA, which contended eBay's $2.4 billion offer was a "bargain price" and the company is worth more. SEPTA filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Delaware Chancery Court in Wilmington against the companies and GSI officials. Kathy Chui, a spokeswoman for eBay, and Steve Somers, a spokesman for GSI, did not immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment. - Bloomberg News

Company to sell $200M in notes

InterDigital Inc., King of Prussia, raised by $50 million the amount of debt securities it intends to sell to institutional buyers Monday. The notes, now totaling $200 million, will pay 2.5 percent interest annually and mature in five years. The proceeds will be used for possible acquisitions, capital expenditures, and working capital, the company said. It provides technologies for wireless communications. - Paul Schweizer

Hershey raising wholesale prices

The Hershey Co. is raising wholesale prices 9.7 percent because its own costs have risen. The Hershey, Pa., candy maker says the price increase takes effect immediately. Many retailers will be able to buy products at the old prices for about eight weeks. - AP

Glaxo partner Pronova settles lawsuit

GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C. says U.S. patent litigation over the Omega-3 Lovaza drug has been settled, allowing generic-drug company Apotex eventually to bring a competitor to market. Glaxo has major operations in the Philadelphia area. Glaxo said Norway's Pronova BioPharma, which supplies the heart medicine to Glaxo, had reached a deal that gives Apotex the right to sell a generic version of Lovaza in the United States from the first quarter of 2015 or earlier. Glaxo said financial terms of the settlement were confidential. Separately, a federal jury in Oakland, Calif., said Abbott Laboratories must pay Glaxo $3.5 million in damages in an antitrust lawsuit contending Abbott sought to stifle competition over HIV drugs when it quadrupled the price of its AIDS medicine Norvir in 2003. - Bloomberg News


FDA won't stop cheap version of drug

Pregnant women will still be able to get a drastically cheaper version of a new expensive drug that prevents premature birth, federal officials said Wednesday. Since the drug was approved, it has been unclear whether women would have to pay $1,500 per dose for the licensed version or could continue to have the drug made by specialty pharmacies for $10 to $20. The price increase caused an outcry, and the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday took the unusual step of declaring that pharmacies could still make the cheap version of the once-a-week shot on an individual basis, as they have for years. KV Pharmaceutical Co., which makes the drug, said it was committed to making sure all women had access to it. - AP

Possible Buffett successor resigns

David Sokol, once a candidate to succeed Warren Buffett as head of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., resigned after helping to negotiate the acquisition of a company whose shares he had bought. Sokol, 54, bought about 96,000 Lubrizol Corp. shares before recommending the company as a takeover target, Buffett, Berkshire's chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement. Buffett said he didn't ask for the resignation and that Sokol's stock purchases were legal. Sokol bought 96,060 Lubrizol shares on Jan. 5, 6 and 7, less than two weeks before recommending the company as a Berkshire acquisition, Buffett said. In their first discussion about Lubrizol, Sokol said he was a shareholder, Buffett said in the statement. - Bloomberg News

ADP: Companies added jobs in March

Companies added more workers in March, a sign the labor market may be strengthening, data from a private report based on payrolls showed. Employment increased by 201,000 workers in March after a revised 208,000 gain in February, according to ADP Employer Services. Another report showed employers announced fewer job cuts in March than during the same month last year. Planned reductions decreased 39 percent to 41,528 this month from March 2010, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. - Bloomberg News

CEOs plan to boost hiring

A majority of America's largest companies are ready to step up hiring this year, and more than 90 percent expect sales to improve, a new CEO survey found. The Business Roundtable said 52 percent of its members planned to increase hiring in the next six months. That's the largest proportion for the group since it began surveying its members nine years ago. - AP

Yields unchanged on money funds

The average seven-day yield on taxable money-market funds was 0.03 percent this week, unchanged from last week, according to iMoneyNet Inc. The average yield on tax-free funds was 0.03 percent this week, also unchanged from last week. - Rhonda Dickey

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