Pfizer has agreed to pay $6 million to 19 states, including Maryland, in a settlement that requires the drug company to change how it promotes a treatment of children's ear infections. The states had accused Pfizer of misrepresenting the performance of Zithromax by saying that it was more convenient to administer than rivals. But that, the states contended, doesn't make it superior to other antibiotics. Pfizer promised to inform customers about the factors physicians consider when prescribing antibiotics. It did not admit wrongdoing, saying that its promotional material was consistent with the medicine's labeling, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Justice Dept. Opposes Antitrust Appeal
The Justice Department asked a federal judge to deny a bid by two technology trade associations to appeal her approval of an antitrust settlement between the government and Microsoft. The Computer and Communications Industry Association and the Software and Information Industry Association oppose the settlement, claiming it is weak and filled with loopholes.
The number of job cuts announced by U.S. companies dropped 41 percent, to 92,917, in December from November, according to a report by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. For the year, job-cut announcements totaled 1,466,823, down 25 percent from 2001.
Chrysler won't extend a one-year advertising agreement with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and plans to switch to a campaign with singer Celine Dion, a Chrysler executive said. The automaker will exit it "as fast as possible" when Martha Stewart's contract is over at the end of March, said Jim Schroer, Chrysler executive vice president for marketing. He said the decision wasn't related to the investigation of Stewart, the media company's chief executive, for her sale of ImClone Systems stock.
AT&T Wireless Services, the biggest publicly traded U.S. mobile phone company, said it will receive a $436 million refund on federal taxes.
Israeli diamond merchants issued the first certificate in an industry program aimed at guaranteeing that the precious stones are not bought from war-torn countries in Africa. The "Kimberley certificate" was attached to a shipment of rough diamonds in Israel on Wednesday, in accordance with an agreement signed by 45 countries, including the United States and members of the European Union, that took effect Jan. 1.
DuPont and Bunge agreed to form a joint venture to sell soy-based food ingredients and develop gene-altered seeds. White Plains, N.Y.-based Bunge, the largest soybean processor in the Americas, will own 28 percent of the business, called Solae, and receive $260 million in cash funded by joint-venture debt.
T-bill rates were mixed. The discount rate on three-month Treasury bills auctioned yesterday was 1.185 percent, unchanged from last week. Rates on six-month bills rose to 1.24 percent from 1.22 percent. The actual return to investors is 1.207 percent on three-month bills, with a $10,000 bill selling for $9,970, and 1.265 percent on a six-month bill selling for $9,937.30. Separately, the Federal Reserve said the average yield on one-year constant maturity Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, dipped to 1.38 percent last week from 1.41 percent the previous week.
Clear Channel Communications, the biggest U.S. radio company, will sell $500 million in five- and 10-year notes to refinance existing debt at lower interest rates. Proceeds will be used to redeem 8.125 percent senior subordinated notes due 2007 and 8.75 percent senior subordinated notes due 2007, the company said.
Gateway, the computer maker that posted losses in seven of the past eight quarters, will be restructured to add more executives and possibly close retail stores as it tries to return to profitability. Spokesman Brad Shaw said Gateway will add executives to help its chief operating and financial officers carry out the restructuring, which was reported earlier in the Wall Street Journal. He declined to identify the new executives.
AT&T said it plans to cut 3,500 jobs, nearly 5 percent of its total workforce, in its business services division and take fourth-quarter charges of $1.5 billion, mainly to reflect losses on its Latin American subsidiary. Slightly more than half of the employees affected are in management, the company said, and most of the cuts will happen in the first half of the year through layoffs and voluntary measures. AT&T, which said last year that it would end its financial support of AT&T Latin America -- a provider of voice and data services -- said it would take a $1.1 billion write-down on the investment.
General Motors said it will be able to build as many as 1 million gasoline-electric hybrid cars and trucks annually by 2007 to compete against similar fuel-efficient vehicles sold by competitors. The world's largest automaker will introduce three types of the hybrid systems in at least seven high-volume vehicles starting with the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickups in late 2003, the company said.
Online holiday sales, helped by free-shipping offers, are turning out to be robust, according to several preliminary reports, providing a bright spot in an otherwise mediocre shopping season. The double-digit percentage increases at online retailers far outstripped the slim increases estimated for sales in stores.
Konica and Minolta, two Japanese makers of cameras and precision machinery, are in merger talks as the two face increasing competition from consumer electronics companies and bigger rivals such as Canon.
US Airways is reducing the size of its operations and flight schedule at Florida's Orlando International Airport, according to papers filed Friday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Alexandria. US Airways plans to cut the number of gates it leases at the airport to six from 15. The Arlington-based carrier also said its revenue declined in November and its net loss widened. Revenue totaled $519 million for the month, down 9 percent from $572 million in October, and net losses amounted to $118 million, a 157 percent increase from $46 million in October.
Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers