Court Extends Deadline

For Energy Panel Disclosure

A federal judge said yesterday he will give the Bush administration an extra three weeks before it must produce documents -- or identify which papers should remain confidential -- from Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force.

The documents are at issue in a lawsuit seeking information on what outside groups influenced the task force as it prepared an energy policy report in 2001.

The Justice Department revealed in documents filed with the court earlier this week that the White House had reviewed only two of 12 boxes of task force documents, although it had been ordered last August to produce the documents by Nov. 5, or list those it believes should be withheld on constitutional grounds.

At a hearing yesterday, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said that since the administration -- despite the delays -- appears to have shown some "good faith compliance," he was willing to extend the deadline.

Sullivan made clear he is all but certain to reject a government request to put the case on hold, pending a formal appeal of his order to produce the papers.

Sullivan told government lawyers yesterday that he was not inclined to grant such a request.

The judge is expected to make a formal decision today on the request for a stay.

EPA Targets Asthma

In New Research Plan

Environmental pollutants that contribute to asthma are the target of a new research plan issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman said asthma problems in the United States, particularly among children, are alarming, requiring better research into genetic susceptibility, health and socioeconomic status, lifestyle and activity patterns.

Asthma has become the most common long-term childhood disease, affecting 4.8 million children each year. Nearly 1 in 13 school-age children has it, according to EPA.

Nationally, about 26 million adults and children annually suffer from asthma, Whitman said.

EPA also called for more immediate research into how asthma is induced and worsens, what makes some people more susceptible than others and what are the biggest risks for those who might get it.

FDA Clears Lozenge

For Smokers Trying to Quit

Smokers trying to quit will soon be able to try a nicotine-containing lozenge to help reduce their cigarette cravings.

The Food and Drug Administration yesterday approved GlaxoSmithKline's Commit lozenge for over-the-counter sales. It is the first nicotine-containing lozenge to win the agency's approval.

The FDA last spring forced off the market nicotine lollipops that a number of pharmacists were manufacturing as an alternative to nicotine patches or gum for smoking cessation. The FDA has maintained that smoking-cessation products are drugs that require its approval to sell. The Commit lozenge will soon be available for sale in 72-lozenge packages for $39.95.

-- Compiled from reports by the Associated Press