Warren fuels speculation by dropping class

Thursday, September 2, 2010; A15

When fall classes began Wednesday at Harvard Law School, Elizabeth Warren was scheduled to be teaching contract law to first-year students. But something happened on the way to the chalkboard.

"I'm writing to let you know that Professor Jerry Frug will be teaching your Contracts class this term instead of Professor Elizabeth Warren," law school dean Martha Minow wrote to students on Tuesday, according to an e-mail obtained by The Washington Post. "Professor Warren regrets that she will not be able to teach you this fall and we regret the last minute change."

Last-minute change?

Cue up another round of speculation about whether President Obama is about to tap Warren to head the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

The watchdog, created by the massive financial overhaul bill signed into law in July, is aimed at protecting borrowers from abuses in mortgages, credit cards and other such loans. It will be housed in the Federal Reserve but will have an independent director, dedicated funding and autonomy to write and enforce its own rules.

Warren, a high-profile consumer advocate and chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel, has long been a leading candidate for the job. She recently met with top White House officials to talk about the post, which requires Senate confirmation and comes with a five-year term.

Through a spokesman, Warren declined to comment on Wednesday. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said he didn't expect an announcement this week about whom the president would nominate.

Still, Warren's abrupt withdrawal from the classroom raises an obvious question: Why?

She continued to teach fall classes in 2008 and 2009, even as she chaired the oversight panel, and the Harvard Law School Web site still lists her as teaching this semester - three days a week.

Apparently, she has other plans.

- Brady Dennis

Botox maker settles case for $600 million

Allergan, maker of the iconic anti-wrinkle drug Botox, has agreed to pay the federal government $600 million to settle civil and criminal allegations that it marketed the blockbuster treatment for unapproved uses, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

The Irvine, Calif.-based specialty pharmaceutical firm also agreed to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor count of promoting Botox for relief of headaches and other uses for which the drug, made from a form of the toxin that causes botulism, is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

A Justice Department spokesman estimated that the settlement was among the 10 largest health care settlements by the department.

The agreement ends more than two years of scrutiny of Allergan's activities spawned by whistleblowers. The company was accused of making it "a top corporate priority to maximize sales of Botox" for unapproved uses between 2000 and 2005, documents showed.

Allergan Executive Vice President Douglas S. Ingram said in a statement that "this settlement is in the best interest of our stockholders as it resolves all matters at issue in the investigation."

- Chicago Tribune

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