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Exclusive: Biogen prices hemophilia drug on par with older therapies
Biogen Idec Inc is pricing its newly-approved long-acting hemophilia drug to cost U.S. patients, and insurers, about the same per year as older, less convenient therapies whose price can reach about $300,000 annually. The move could pressure rivals such as Pfizer Inc to lower prices for existing hemophilia treatments, which provide patients with life-saving infusions of a blood clotting agent, according to doctors and industry analysts. Biogen last month won U.S. and Canadian approval for Alprolix to treat hemophilia B, the more rare form of the condition that affects about 4,000 people in the United States and about 25,000 worldwide. The company is awaiting a decision on another drug to treat hemophilia A, a more common form of the disease, expected to come in the next few months.
Auto airbag maker Continental named in GM recall suit
Plaintiffs' lawyers are seeking to draw Continental Automotive Systems U.S., the maker of airbag systems in recalled General Motors Co vehicles, into litigation over an ignition-switch defect that has been linked to 13 deaths. A lawsuit filed on Wednesday in federal court in California is the first to name Continental, a subsidiary of German automotive supplier Continental AG , in a growing wave of litigation over GM's recall, which has so far encompassed 2.6 million vehicles. Continental made airbag systems for the recalled cars, including sensors that determine if and when the airbags go off in an accident, according to the suit. The case is among dozens of proposed class actions that have been filed by customers accusing GM of concealing its knowledge of the defect for more than a decade, putting plaintiffs at risk of injury and causing them to suffer economic losses on their cars, including lower resale value.
Lululemon yoga pants lawsuits in U.S. win final dismissals
By Nate Raymond and Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge has issued final dismissals of lawsuits accusing Lululemon Athletica Inc and various company officials of defrauding shareholders by concealing defects in yoga pants. U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan had on April 4 issued "draft" decisions dismissing a shareholder lawsuit against Lululemon, and two lawsuits accusing 11 executives and directors of missing red flags about poor quality control. Shareholders accused Lululemon of failing to disclose how its black Luon yoga pants were too sheer, culminating in an expensive March 2013 recall. They also accused the Vancouver, British Columbia-based company of overstating its ability to ensure good quality control and of concealing plans to replace its since departed chief executive, Christine Day.
Monte Paschi approves increasing size of capital increase to 5 billion euros
The board of Italy's Monte dei Paschi di Siena approved increasing the size of a planned capital increase to 5 billion euros ($6.9 billion) from 3 billion euros to absorb any potential loss stemming from a European health check of lenders. In a statement on Friday, the bank said the higher capital increase may also allow it to repay early 4.1 billion euros of state aid it received last year. An extraordinary shareholder meeting was called for May 20 to vote on the revised capital increase proposal.
GM could benefit, too, from an ignition-switch victims fund
If General Motors Co creates a fund to compensate victims of its faulty ignition switches, an option that a top legal adviser suggested it is exploring, the company could give up strong defenses to a wave of lawsuits. By setting up a fund, GM could avert years of civil litigation and limit its financial and reputational harm. GM has retained Kenneth Feinberg, a Washington lawyer who has overseen compensation funds for victims of high-profile catastrophes like the BP Plc oil spill and the September 11, 2001, attacks. Feinberg told CNBC on Wednesday that GM is "asking me to help develop some sort of program that might be used to compensate eligible claimants." Feinberg did not return a request for comment.
Compensation battle rages four years after BP's U.S. oil spill
Four years after the Deepwater Horizon spill, oil is still washing up on the long sandy beaches of Grand Isle, Louisiana, and some islanders are fed up with hearing from BP that the crisis is over. Jules Melancon, the last remaining oyster fisherman on an island dotted with colorful houses on stilts, says he has not found a single oyster alive in his leases in the area since the leak and relies on an onshore oyster nursery to make a living. The British oil major has paid out billions of dollars in compensation under a settlement experts say is unprecedented in its breadth. Some claimants are satisfied, but others are irate that BP is now challenging aspects of the settlement.
Japan investment in Southeast Asia surges amid China slump
Japanese companies' investments in Southeast Asia surged last year to almost three times the amount invested in China, after relations between Beijing and Tokyo soured in 2012 and Chinese labor costs rose, a government agency of Japan said on Friday. Japanese companies invested 2.33 trillion yen ($22.8 billion) in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam last year, compared with 887 billion yen in China, Japan's largest trading partner, the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), said. Investments doubled in Southeast Asia and fell 18 percent in China over 2012 and China's waning attraction is likely to continue as the ratio of companies planning expansion there fell to a record low of below 55 percent, JETRO said, citing a survey of Japanese companies.
The robot is ready - so when will deep sea mining start?
By Stephen Eisenhammer and Silvia Antonioli NEWCASTLE, England/LONDON (Reuters) - The world's first deep sea mining robot sits idle on a British factory floor, waiting to claw up high grade copper and gold from the seabed off Papua New Guinea (PNG) - when a wrangle over terms is solved. The world waits for the judgment of a United Nations agency based in Jamaica. The marine area beyond national jurisdiction is 50 percent of the Ocean," said Nii Odunton, secretary general of the U.N.'s International Seabed Authority (ISA). "I believe the grades look good, the abundance looks good, I believe that money will be made," Odunton said from the ISA offices in Kingston.
Tech workers seek to use Steve Jobs evidence in upcoming trial on no-hire accords
By Dan Levine SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Four large technology companies should not be allowed to limit evidence about Apple Inc co-founder Steve Jobs at an upcoming trial over no-hire agreements in Silicon Valley, according to a court document filed late on Thursday by employees suing the firms. Tech workers brought a class action lawsuit against Apple, Google Inc, Intel Inc and Adobe Systems Inc in 2011, alleging they conspired to avoid competing for each other's employees in order to avert a salary war. The case, which is closely watched in Silicon Valley, is largely built on emails among top executives, including Apple's late chief executive Jobs and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
Japan, U.S. trade talks in stalemate, ministers to meet again: Japan
By Krista Hughes and Kaori Kaneko WASHINGTON/TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S.-Japan talks aimed at a trade deal seen as vital to a broader regional pact are in stalemate, Japan's economy minister said, as negotiators struggle to narrow gaps ahead of a summit between the countries' leaders. The TPP is central to U.S. President Barack Obama's policy of expanding America's presence in Asia. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for his part, has touted the TPP as a main element of his strategy to reform the world's third largest economy and generate sustainable growth. "A stalemate continues," Japan's Economy Minister Akira Amari told reporters in Washington after talks with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.
Wall Street Week Ahead: Spring fever brings hope for U.S. earnings
By Chuck Mikolajczak NEW YORK (Reuters) - Earnings season shifts into high gear next week, and with nearly one-third of S&P 500 names set to post results, investors hope the news provides a catalyst to buy stocks and leave the market's recent weakness in the dust. Several behemoths, including Apple, the largest U.S. company by market value, as well as Microsoft, McDonald's and AT&T , are due to report earnings. They'll be accompanied by highfliers like Netflix and Facebook, giving the first real cross-section of the state of corporate America as temperatures rise across the country and investors hope to put the cold weather behind them. Strategists will also be looking for clues on how badly China's slowdown hits U.S. corporate results.
Exclusive: GM says recalled cars safe, but has not tested for knee-bump danger
By Julia Edwards and Eric Beech WASHINGTON (Reuters) - General Motors says that cars being recalled because of faulty ignition switches can be driven safely before repairs, based on more than 80 tests, but the automaker has not addressed a problem long known to potentially shut off the engine: a simple bump from a driver's knee. Safety advocates and engineers say the lack of testing for this factor undermines GM's claims that the cars are safe. As early as 2004, GM engineers complained that the ignition switch could be turned off if the key was bumped by a knee. A Texas judge on Thursday allowed the unrepaired cars to stay on the road, over the objection of safety advocates and plaintiffs lawyers who said there is no way, short of repairs, to ensure the ignition switch would not slip out of the run position, turning off the motor and disabling power steering, power brakes and airbags.
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