Shkreli to return $64M, barred from industry
Martin Shkreli must return $64.6 million in profits he and his former company reaped from raising the price of the life-saving drug Daraprim, a federal judge ruled Friday while also barring the provocative, imprisoned ex-CEO from participating in the pharmaceutical industry for the rest of his life.
U.S. District Judge Denise Cote's ruling came several weeks after a seven-day bench trial in December. The Federal Trade Commission and seven states brought the case in 2020 against the man dubbed "Pharma Bro" in the media.
Shkreli was CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals — later Vyera — when it jacked up the price of Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill, after obtaining exclusive rights to the decades-old drug in 2015. It treats a rare parasitic disease that strikes pregnant women, cancer patients and AIDS patients.
He defended the decision as capitalism at work and said insurance and other programs ensured that people who need Daraprim would ultimately get it.
But the move sparked outrage from medical centers to Congress to the 2016 presidential campaign trail, where Hillary Clinton termed it price-gouging and future President Donald Trump called Shkreli "a spoiled brat."
Shkreli eventually offered hospitals half off — still amounting to a 2,500% increase. But patients normally take most of the weekslong treatment after returning home, so they and their insurers still faced the $750-a-pill price.
He resigned as Turing's CEO in 2015, a day after he was arrested on securities fraud charges related to hedge funds he ran before getting into the pharmaceuticals industry. He was convicted and is serving a seven-year prison sentence.
Suit claims collusion by Google, Facebook
Newly unredacted documents from a state-led antitrust lawsuit against Google accuse the search giant of colluding with rival Facebook to manipulate online advertising sales. The CEOs of both companies were aware of the deal and signed off on it, the lawsuit alleges.
The original, redacted lawsuit, filed in December 2021, accused Google of "anti-competitive conduct" and of teaming up with the social networking giant. But the unredacted version offers details on the involvement of Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in approving the deal. Facebook has since renamed itself Meta.
According to the lawsuit, Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, was "explicit that 'this is a big deal strategically'" in a 2018 email thread about the deal that included Facebook's CEO. While the names of the Facebook executives are still redacted in the suit, their titles are visible.
When the two sides hammered out the terms of the agreement, "the team sent an email addressed directly to CEO" Zuckerberg, the lawsuit states.
"We're nearly ready to sign and need your approval to move forward," the email read, according to the complaint. Zuckerberg wanted to meet with Sandberg and his other executives before making a decision, the complaint states.
In a statement, Google spokesperson Peter Schottenfels said the lawsuit is "full of inaccuracies and lacks legal merit."
In September 2018, the complaint says, the two companies signed the agreement. Sandberg, who was once the head of Google's ad business, and Pichai personally signed off on the deal, per the states' complaint.
Delta expects delays from winter storms
Delta Air Lines is warning travelers that a snowstorm expected this weekend could disrupt flights in Atlanta and around the Southeast.
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport said it is preparing for the storm, after conducting a winter weather exercise with snow sweepers last month. Airport spokesman Andrew Gobeil said the airport is prepared to mobilize additional staff.
Airport and airline officials recommend travelers check their flight status before heading to the airport and monitor for updates.
Atlanta-based Delta in 2020 discontinued change fees for bookings on flights originating in North America in main cabin and above.
Delta, the dominant carrier at the Atlanta airport, is waiving certain fare increases for customers who have Jan. 16 or 17 flights to, from or through certain airports in the Southeast and want to change their travel plans to avoid the storm.
Customers who rebook in the same cabin of service for travel by Jan. 20 can do so with no increase. The waiver applies to people with flights booked to, from or through Atlanta and Augusta; Asheville, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Raleigh and Greensboro, N.C.; Columbia and Greenville, S.C.; Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis and Tri-Cities, Tenn.; and Little Rock, Ark.
Delta also expects its hubs at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and in the Northeast to be hit with storms.
Industrial output down in December
U.S. industrial production fell 0.1% in December, the first decline since September, with manufacturers still struggling with snarled supply chains.
Many economists had expected a small increase in production last month as factories recovered.
Yet manufacturing output actually fell by 0.3%, with output at auto plants down 1.3%. Automakers have been hurt by supply chain problems, especially shortages of crucial computer chips.
Output from utilities fell 1.5% last month, reflecting unusually warm December weather. Output from mining, which covers oil and gas production, was the only major category showing an increase, a gain of 2% last month.
Economists believe that industrial production will continue to struggle to meet strong demand as long as problems affecting supply chains persist. There is concern that the surge in COVID-19 cases because of the omicron variant will result in shortages of factory workers, which could intensify supply chain problems.
— Compiled by Dave Flessner