Drugmakers raised prescription prices by nearly triple the rate of inflation in the first three months of this year -- just before Medicare began its pharmacy discount card program -- negating much of the savings the government promised to seniors, according to an AARP survey. Prices rose by 3.4 percent among the top 200 brand-name drugs while inflation in general was 1.2 percent in the first quarter of 2004, the study said. It tracked the prices pharmaceutical companies charge drug wholesalers. The Medicare card program began in June, although companies started advertising their prices in late April. The Bush administration says the average savings on brand-name drugs is 11 to 18 percent for discount card holders.
OPEC Rethinking Quota Increases
OPEC may scrap a 500,000-barrel-a-day increase in oil output quotas set for Aug. 1 because of falling prices, two officials from countries in the group said. Prices have fallen 16 percent, to $36 per barrel, in New York since the cartel agreed in early June to boost daily output targets by 2 million barrels as of July 1. Saudi Arabia's oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, said prices have reached a "fair" level, and Edmund Daukoru, adviser to Nigeria's president on oil, said raising quotas in August may be a mistake.
Mark A. Belnick, Tyco International's former top lawyer, finished testifying after acknowledging he was promised a bonus after he showed former chief executive L. Dennis Kozlowski a document indicating $100,000 of Tyco's money had been sent to Kozlowski's girlfriend. But Belnick said the bonus, worth up to $17 million in cash and stock, was unrelated to the "mistress document." He said the bonus was from a favorable result from a Securities and Exchange Commission probe of Tyco's accounting. Belnick in on trial in Manhattan's state Supreme Court on charges of first-degree grand larceny, falsifying business records and securities fraud.
Jurors failed to reach a verdict in their third day of deliberations at the federal fraud trial of four former Adelphia Communications executives. They are considering fraud and conspiracy charges against Adelphia founder John J. Rigas, two of his sons and a former assistant treasurer at the cable television company, which sought bankruptcy protection in 2002.
Cendant's former chief financial officer told jurors that Vice Chairman E. Kirk Shelton instructed him to "manage the numbers" to boost earnings at CUC, a predecessor firm where both men worked. Cosmo Corigliano testified in the criminal trial of Shelton and Walter Forbes, Cendant's former chairman, that when he was named CUC's finance chief in early 1995, Shelton sent him a memorandum that said arranging financial reports so earnings would "meet Wall Street expectations" was a top priority.
J.P. Morgan Chase, which is to complete its $57 billion purchase of Bank One today, was sued for allegedly rejecting a price $7 billion lower. The shareholder lawsuit contends that J.P. Morgan chief executive William B. Harrison Jr. agreed to the higher price because that deal allowed him to keep his job for two more years, whereas Bank One chief executive James Dimon would have immediately become the new J.P. Morgan chief under an initial, lower bid. Bank One spokesman Thomas Kelly said, "We've reviewed the lawsuit and it is baseless."
Boeing sold its Irving, Tex.-based commercial aircraft electronics business to BAE Systems for undisclosed terms. The aircraft manufacturer has been buying more commercial aircraft components from outside suppliers for several years.
HealthSouth, the largest U.S. operator of rehabilitation hospitals, named Robert P. May chairman as it seeks to emerge from an alleged $2.7 billion accounting fraud. May, HealthSouth's interim chief executive until last month and a former executive at Cablevision Systems and FedEx, replaces Joel C. Gordon, who had agreed to serve as chairman until "the turnaround of the company was largely accomplished," Birmingham-based HealthSouth said. Gordon remains on the board.
A Washington state appeals court upheld the state's anti-spam law in a case against a man who claimed he did not know some of his e-mail was going to state residents. The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the Washington Court of Appeals rejected an appeal by Jason Heckel of Salem, Ore., doing business as Natural Instincts and promoting a "How to Profit From the Internet" package for $39.95. The case, filed in 1998, was the first under Washington's law against unsolicited junk e-mail.
The Supreme Court refused to overturn a $69 million antitrust judgment against 3M. The maker of Scotch tape lost a jury trial accusing it of using tactics such as rebates to major retailers to keep tape made by competitor LePage's off the shelves of stores including Kmart and Office Max.
NASD denied a claim against Merrill Lynch and dismissed one against former analyst Henry M. Blodget by Ronald S. and Beverly Ann Harwood, who blamed a portfolio decline on what they say were dishonest research reports on high-tech stocks in 1999 and 2000. Regulators last year settled cases against Blodget and Merrill involving research on Internet stocks.
Canada's Supreme Court ruled that Internet service providers do not have to pay royalties to composers and artists for downloaded music. The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) wanted the country's Internet service providers to pay a tariff. Its effort contrasted with the U.S. recording industry's tactic of suing file-sharing services and the individuals who download music from them.
India's economy grew by 8.2 percent in the financial year 2003-2004, the fastest growth rate in 15 years, the government said. The government expects the economy to grow at 7 to 8 percent a year for the next decade.
The European Commission proposed widening the net to catch money launderers and terrorists with new transaction-reporting duties for attorneys, insurance brokers and other businesses. The proposal requires that businesses verify customer identities, watch for suspicious transaction patterns and report any cash purchase of more than $18,000.
Allied Capital agreed to buy Financial Pacific, a privately held company that provides lease financing for small businesses, for about $94 million. Federal Way, Wash.-based Financial Pacific has $200 million in lease assets for industrial, food service, data processing and other business equipment. D.C.-based Allied Capital expects to close the transaction during the third quarter.
Monsanto said its third-quarter earnings rose 45 percent, to $252 million, on stronger global sales of its Roundup herbicide and North American demand for its seeds for genetically modified crops.
General Mills said fourth-quarter profit climbed 24 percent, to $278 million, as health-conscious consumers bought more products such as Yoplait yogurt and fruit snacks.
Compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Dow Jones News Service and Washington Post staff writers.