PHARMACEUTICALS

Bayer to settle Essure cases for $1.6 billion

Bayer agreed to pay $1.6 billion to resolve most of the U.S. litigation over its now-withdrawn Essure contraceptive device, which some women said failed to prevent pregnancies and caused excessive bleeding and pelvic pain.

The deal will resolve about 90 percent of the 39,000 lawsuits consolidated in courts in California and Pennsylvania, Bayer said Thursday in a statement. The proposed payout is considerably more than the $1.1 billion Bayer paid in 2013 to acquire Conceptus, the company that developed the device. Bayer stopped selling Essure in 2018.

Legal bills are piling up at Bayer. The Leverkusen, Germany-based company announced a $12.1 billion plan in June to settle lawsuits over some products it inherited with the $63 billion takeover of Monsanto. But Bayer has not resolved tens of thousands of cancer claims linked to its Roundup weedkiller or reached a deal for handling future claims over the herbicide.

Investors have punished Bayer for its legal troubles. Its shares are down by more than a third since the Monsanto acquisition closed in June 2018, and chief executive Werner Baumann has come under increasing pressure to chart a path forward. Bayer insists that Roundup is safe and has appealed three trial losses over the product.

Bayer sought a deal on the Essure claims to remove the “distractions and uncertainties associated with this litigation,” according to its statement. The company said the settlement did not amount to an admission of wrongdoing or liability.

— Bloomberg News

TRAVEL INDUSTRY

Airbnb institutes ban on house parties

Airbnb is banning house parties worldwide as it tries to clean up its reputation and comply with coronavirus-related limits on gatherings.

The San Francisco-based home-sharing company said it will limit occupancy in its rental homes to 16 people. It may offer exceptions for boutique hotels or other event venues.

Airbnb said it may pursue legal action against guests and hosts who violate the ban. Last week, for the first time, Airbnb took legal action against a guest who held an unauthorized party in Sacramento County, Calif.

Airbnb has always prohibited unauthorized parties, and the company said nearly 75 percent of its listings explicitly ban parties.

But after a deadly shooting at a California Airbnb rental last Halloween, the company has taken multiple steps to crack down on parties. Five people were killed in the shooting, which happened during an unauthorized party.

In November, Airbnb started manually reviewing U.S. and Canadian reservations to weed out suspicious rentals, such as a guest who booked a one-night stay close to home. It expanded that program to Australia last week.

In July, Airbnb banned U.S. and Canadian guests under age 25 with fewer than three positive reviews from booking entire homes close to where they live. It expanded that policy to the United Kingdom, Spain and France last week.

Airbnb said it also plans to expand a hotline for neighbors to report unauthorized parties.

Airbnb — which has more than 7 million listings — offers hundreds of homes that can accommodate 16 people. There are at least 53 in London, 277 in Beijing, 170 in New York and 116 in Los Angeles, according to the company’s website.

— Associated Press

Also in Business

American Airlines will drop flights to 15 smaller U.S. cities in October when a federal requirement to serve those communities ends. The airline blamed low demand during the coronavirus pandemic, which has triggered a massive slump in air travel. Airlines and their labor unions are seeking billions of dollars in new taxpayer relief. American said its schedule covering Oct. 7 through Nov. 3 will drop flights to cities including Sioux City, Iowa; New Haven, Conn.; and Springfield, Ill.

Nestlé is adding faux tuna to its growing plant-protein portfolio as the world's largest food company expands beyond vegan burgers. The tuna alternative, based on pea protein and wheat gluten, will first be sold in Nestlé's home market of Switzerland, under its Garden Gourmet brand, at the end of August. While the plant-based seafood industry lags the faux meat and dairy markets, Nestlé is joining an increasing number of competitors trying to win the category.

— From news services