PHARMACEUTICALS
Celgene hikes price of popular cancer drug

On the same day Celgene was announcing that it would be acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb in the biggest pharma deal ever, the company was also raising the price of its blockbuster cancer drug.

The New Jersey-based biotechnology firm, which has routinely increased the prices of its top-selling drugs, boosted the price of a 10-milligram dose of Revlimid by 3.5 percent to $719.82 effective Jan. 3, according to price data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence and First Databank. Cancer patients need many doses of Revlimid a year; the overall cost can add up to $200,000. The same dose cost $247.28 at the end of 2007.

Celgene also raised the price of psoriasis therapy Otezla, the cancer treatment Abraxane and two other drugs by the same percentage. Celgene spokesman Greg Geissman said the 3.5 percent increase is lower than the expected rate of spending growth in U.S. health care.

“For the benefit of patients, Celgene is committed to helping find ways to ensure that American health care improves access and quality, while also becoming more affordable over time,” he said.

Celgene has come under scrutiny for hiking prices in the past. Chief executive Bob Hugin faced attacks on that issue when he ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in New Jersey last year.

In June, Celgene said it would boost prices of its therapies only once a year and limit increases to the annual percentage growth of U.S. medical spending.

— Bloomberg News

AUTO SAFETY
Ford recalls 950,000 vehicles over air bags

Ford is recalling more than 953,000 vehicles worldwide to replace Takata passenger air-bag inflaters that can explode and hurl shrapnel.

The move includes more than 782,000 vehicles in the United States and is part of the largest series of recalls in U.S. history.

Included are the 2010 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX, the 2010 and 2011 Ford Ranger, the 2010 to 2012 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ, the 2010 and 2011 Mercury Milan, and the 2010 to 2014 Ford Mustang.

Ammonium nitrate creates a blast to inflate air bags. But it can deteriorate due to heat and humidity and explode with too much force, blowing apart a metal canister used to contain the blast. At least 23 people have been killed and hundreds injured by the inflaters.

Ford says it doesn’t know of any injuries in vehicles included in this recall. Dealers will replace the inflaters.

— Associated Press

Also in Business

Los Angeles prosecutors are suing the Weather Channel to stop it from tracking the whereabouts of app users and selling the data to third parties. City Attorney Michael Feuer said Friday that users of the app are misled to think their location data will only be used for personalized forecasts and alerts. Feuer says the Weather Channel sold data to at least a dozen websites for targeted ads. A spokeswoman for the company didn't immediately return messages seeking comment.

Federated Investors fired at least two employees for unprofessional conduct last month during a Bloomberg Television interview of one of the firm's money managers. "We apologize to anyone who was offended," Meghan McAndrew, a spokeswoman for the asset manager, said in an email. The incidents occurred Dec. 20 as Linda Duessel, a senior equities strategist, was being interviewed from the company's Pittsburgh offices. As she spoke, a man behind her made an "OK" hand gesture that has been linked to far-right political groups, including white supremacists. Later, an image of a shirtless Russian President Vladimir Putin on horseback appeared on a computer screen. Duessel was unaware of the activities. McAndrew said those involved "are no longer with the firm."

A federal judge overseeing lawsuits alleging Bayer's glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer causes cancer on Friday declined to reconsider a ruling that limits evidence the plaintiffs in the litigation consider crucial to their cases. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria during a hearing in San Francisco federal court denied a plaintiff lawyer's request to review the decision. Chhabria on Thursday granted Bayer unit Monsanto's request to split an upcoming trial into two phases. The order initially bars lawyers for plaintiff Edwin Hardeman from introducing evidence that the company allegedly attempted to influence regulators and manipulate public opinion.

— From news services