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Business in brief

Mass. gets $9.2m as drug maker settles with states

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July 16, 2008

THE REGION
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley's office said it will receive just over $9.2 million from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. as part of a settlement of allegations of Medicaid fraud and illegal drug marketing practices. The payout is part of an overall $515 million settlement disclosed in September, according to Bristol-Myers. The states and Department of Justice accused the drug developer of inflating prescription drug prices to get more money out of Medicaid programs, illegally paying physicians and healthcare providers to use its products, and promoting the unapproved use of the antipsychotic drug Abilify. (AP)

Novartis extends multiyear alliance with Alnylam
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. plans to disclose today that Swiss drug maker Novartis AG has decided to extend its multiyear alliance with the Cambridge company that specializes in RNA interference, a way to block the expression of key genes linked to diseases. When the deal was initially signed in 2005, the companies said it could ultimately be worth $700 million. So far, Alnylam has received approximately $100 million from the pact. (Todd Wallack)

Developer, landlords face EPA violations over lead
A Boston-based real estate developer and 23 landlords have been cited for 839 violations of laws that require them to notify tenants about lead paint in their apartments. The Environmental Protection Agency said The Community Builders Inc. and associated property owners repeatedly broke lead disclosure laws in 11 communities in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The companies face penalties of up to $11,000 for each violation cited in the federal complaint. Officials at The Community Builders Inc. did not immediately return a call seeking comment. (AP)

THE NATION
Oil plunges $6.74 as price sustainability fears spread
Oil prices fell harder than they have in 17 years as fears that record prices are spreading broad economic pain led to the third big sell-off in just over a week. Light, sweet crude plunged $6.44, or 4.4 percent, to settle at $138.74 in an extremely volatile session. Prices at one point dropped more than $10 a barrel from the day's high. The turnaround may not signal a lasting shift in sentiment, but it does underscore investor uncertainty about the sustainability of sky-high prices and potentially long-lasting effects on the broader economy. (AP)

FTC fines 2 telemarketers for ignoring do-not-call list
Two telemarketing companies that sell Dish Network Corp.'s satellite TV services have agreed to pay fines of $95,000 for ignoring the federal do-not-call list and hanging up on customers, federal regulators said. Planet Earth Satellite Inc. of Phoenix and its president have been charged with calling consumers whose phone numbers are on the National Do Not Call Registry. Star Satellite LLC, based in Provo, Utah, was accused of making telemarketing calls that failed to connect consumers to a live telemarketer within two seconds after consumers answer the call. The FTC said the two-second rule was implemented after concerns by consumers, especially women and the elderly, that they were being stalked when they picked up the phone and no one answered. (AP

3 N.Y. newspapers in talks to mesh some operations
The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Daily News are in talks to combine some business operations including delivery services, a spokesman for the participants said. "The request for proposal is an opportunity we are jointly exploring to lower costs, improve efficiency, and strengthen our respective newspapers," said Howard Rubenstein, who handles public relations for News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch. News Corp. owns the Journal and the Post. Real estate mogul Mort Zuckerman owns the Daily News, the Post's fierce rival on the New York tabloid market. Rubenstein would not say what other operations the papers were considering linking. (AP)

THE WORLD
Nintendo to launch music game with 60 instruments
Nintendo Co. said it plans to launch a music game for its Wii game console this year, taking it into the fast-growing software segment pioneered by Guitar Hero. Wii sales have topped rival consoles from Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp. with its motion controller that can be swung like a bat or sword, broadening its audience well beyond hard-core video gamers. Wii Music will let players simulate more than 60 different instruments. Activision's Guitar Hero turned the music-playing genre into arguably the hottest category for video games. Guitar Hero already plays on all three game consoles, helping to build the industry's appeal among players beyond core fighting and race-style titles. (Reuters)

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