Daily Archives: February 17, 2015

Some 11.4 million Americans are enrolled in Obamacare: White House

(Reuters) – Some 11.4 million Americans enrolled in private health insurance through Obamacare during the open enrolment period, the White House said in a tweet on Tuesday.

“The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is working. It’s working better than we anticipated, certainly working a lot better than many of the critics talked about early on,” President Barack Obama said in a video linked to the White House tweet.

Obamacare’s open enrollment period began on Nov. 15 and closed on Sunday.

(Reporting by Breaking News Team; Editing by Peter Cooney)


Source: Newsjyoti Health

Florida puts executions on hold as high court debates anesthetic

(Reuters) – Florida’s highest court put executions on hold Tuesday while the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether use of a controversial general anesthetic constitutes “cruel and unusual” punishment of condemned killers.

The state Supreme Court stopped the execution of Jerry William Correll next week because the Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a challenge some Oklahoma inmates brought against use of midazolam hydrochloride as the first of three drugs used in lethal injections. Florida uses essentially the same formula, the court said in a 5-2 ruling.

The state switched to midazolam as an anesthetic in 2013 when some foreign drug manufacturers quit supplying other drugs previously used in executions. The Department of Corrections said 11 lethal injections have been carried out with midazolam in Florida since then.

   Florida courts have approved midazolam, but the nation’s highest court agreed Jan. 23 to hear an appeal by 21 Oklahoma inmates in a case citing prolonged executions and signs of pain reported in that state, Arizona and Ohio.

   Chief Justice Jorge Labarga wrote that if the nation’s highest court rules in favor of the prisoners, “then Florida’s precedent approving the use of midazolam and the current Florida three-drug protocol will be subject to serious doubt as to its continued viability.”

   Justices Charles Canady and Ricky Polston dissented, saying Florida should proceed with Correll’s execution unless the U.S. Supreme Court stays it. Canady wrote that a stay in another state does not automatically require one in Florida, and that agreeing to review Oklahoma’s use of the drug means the justices will forbid it.

   Canady said Oklahoma agreed to postpone three pending executions, while Florida has not agreed to suspend lethal injections. Correll, scheduled to die Feb. 26, was the only Florida inmate with an active death warrant.

   He also noted that lower federal courts have approved Oklahoma’s use of the drug and said it is “purely speculative” whether the Supreme Court will reverse them.

   Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, said the Supreme Court appeal is a toss-up.

   “They might affirm it,” Dieter said. “But it would be terrible to go ahead with an execution when the person’s life or death depends solely on his having a date between the Supreme Court agreeing to hear the case and its decision in that case.”

   Correll was convicted of the 1985 murders of his ex-wife, five-year-old daughter and former mother-in-law and sister-in-law.

(Editing by David Adams, Bernard Orr)


Source: Newsjyoti Health

Boston Scientific to pay J&J $600 million to settle Guidant suit

<span class="articleLocatio

n”>(Reuters) – Medical device maker Boston Scientific Corp on Tuesday said it has agreed to pay $600 million to Johnson & Johnson to settle a long-running lawsuit over Boston Scientific’s 2005 acquisition of rival Guidant.

J&J had sought more than $7 billion in damages after it lost a bidding war to Boston Scientific following an initial deal to buy Guidant for $21.5 billion in 2005. J&J accused Guidant of breaking that deal.

Boston Scientific, which admitted no liability by Guidant under the settlement, said it expects to record a pre-tax litigation-related charge of about $600 million in its fourth quarter 2014 results. J&J will permanently drop its lawsuit.

J&J spokesman Ernie Knewitz said in a statement that the settlement “reflects how important it is for parties involved in merger agreements to fully live up to their obligations.”

Boston Scientific general counsel Tim Pratt said in a statement that the settlement was in the best interest of the company and its shareholders.

The settlement came just a month after attorneys for the two companies wrapped up a non-jury trial in Manhattan federal court. U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan, who oversaw the trial, did not rule.

Under the 2005 merger deal at the heart of the dispute, Guidant was allowed to consider competing bids alongside J&J’s, but not solicit them.

In late 2005, Boston Scientific announced that it planned to make an offer, which was contingent on selling some of Guidant’s assets to Abbott Laboratories to deal with antitrust concerns. J&J claimed in its lawsuit that Guidant violated the merger agreement by providing due diligence directly to Abbott, making Boston Scientific’s offer possible.

Boston Scientific eventually acquired Guidant for $27 billion and paid J&J a $705 million termination fee.

The deal, which left Boston Scientific laden with debt and dealing with a host of Guidant product recalls, was widely considered to be a disaster for Boston Scientific. At trial, Boston Scientific argued that J&J should not get any damages because it was better off for losing the bidding war.

The case is Johnson & Johnson v. Guidant Corporation, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 06-7685.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson and Bill Berkrot; Editing by Grant McCool and Phil Berlowitz)


Source: Newsjyoti Health

CVS urges cost controls for new cholesterol drugs

Wed Feb 18, 2015 4:27am IST

<span class="focusParagraph articleLocation”>(Reuters) – CVS Health warned on Tuesday that the costs of a potent new class of cholesterol treatments could eclipse those of other expensive medicines and overwhelm the U.S. healthcare system “if rigid cost control mechanisms are not put in place.”

Two of the new injectable cholesterol treatments, called PCSK9 inhibitors, could gain U.S. approval this summer. CVS said they could eventually be used by as many as 15 million patients at an annual cost of up to $150 billion a year if priced at $7,000 to $12,000 a year, making it the highest-selling class of drugs in history.

“The resilience and ability of our health care system to absorb such high costs will be tested if rigid cost control mechanisms are not put in place,” William Shrank, chief scientific officer for CVS, said in a statement.

CVS, the second-largest U.S. pharmacy benefit manager (PBM), negotiates drug prices for 65 million people through contracts with employers and health plans.

The CVS call for cost controls follows sharp criticism from insurers, other payers and politicians over the high cost of new, highly effective treatments for hepatitis C, especially two medicines from Gilead Science Inc that have retail prices of up to $94,500 per patient for a course of treatment.

Unlike those drugs, which are typically taken for about 12 weeks, the PCSK9s would be used for a lifetime.

Express Scripts, the largest U.S. PBM, which has waged a campaign against Gilead’s hepatitis C drugs and is now scrutinizing costly cancer medications, provided a slightly different view of the new cholesterol drug market.

Express Scripts also expects annual costs of around $10,000 per year per patient. But it sees a patient population that will start small before it ever reaches a possible high of 10 million people and a potential annual cost of $100 billion.

Express Scripts Chief Medical Officer Steve Miller said in an interview that limits set by regulators and the fact that the first wave of drugs are injections may slow their uptake.

“We are going to work to get these products at the best price possible, but they also deserve to get value in the marketplace,” Miller said.

Amgen Inc and a partnership of Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc are awaiting approval of rival PCSK9 inhibitors.

They are expected to be used first by patients who are genetically prone to extreme high cholesterol – a population that CVS and Express peg at 620,000 Americans. They also are likely to be used by those who cannot tolerate standard statin treatments, like Pfizer Inc’s Lipitor.

Amgen declined to comment on the pricing issue and Regeneron did not respond to a request for comment.

Shares of Amgen closed up 0.5 percent at $154.24, while Regeneron’s stock gained 0.4 percent to $404.18. Sanofi’s shares slipped 0.2 percent to 85.53 euros in trading in Paris.

(Additional reporing by Bill Berkrot and Caroline Humer in New York and Vidya L Nathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Jennings, Paul Simao and Matthew Lewis)

Source: Newsjyoti India health

UPDATE 1-Fossil revenue hit by lower watch demand in N. America

(Adds CEO quote, details)

<span class="articleLocatio

n”>Feb 17 (Reuters) – Fossil Group Inc reported
lower-than-expected quarterly revenue and profit due to a
decline in watch and leather products sales in North America,
and said net sales would decrease up to 7.5 percent in the first
quarter.

Shares of the fashion accessories retailer fell 13 percent
in extended trading.

The company said it expects 2015 profit to be significantly
hurt by a strong dollar and restructuring charges.

Fossil, which received more than half of its wholesale net
sales from outside North America in the fourth quarter, said it
expects a first-quarter profit of 59-69 cents per share.

Analysts on average were expecting a profit of $1.21 per
share and revenue of $791.9 million, according to Thomson
Reuters I/B/E/S.

Fossil said wholesale net sales in the fourth quarter ended
Jan.3 fell 4 percent due to a decline in its North America
wholesale business. Overall North American sales fell 11 percent
to $356 million.

Margins fell 60 basis points to 56.8 percent due to
increased promotional activity, the company said.

Net income attributable to Fossil rose to $154.1 million, or
$3.00 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Jan. 3 from $148.5
million, or $2.68 per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned $2.92 per share,
below analysts’ average estimate of $3.07 per share, according
to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company’s revenue of $1.06 billion, unchanged from a
year earlier, fell short of the estimated $1.12 billion.

Fossil said the strong dollar knocked off $32.5 million from
net sales.

Texas-based Fossil also said it had signed a global
licensing agreement with Kate Spade & Co for the
design, development and distribution of Kate Spade New York
watches through 2025. [ID;nGNXVCUGKa]

Up to Tuesday’s close of $99.32, the stock had fallen 18
percent in the past 12 months.

(Reporting by Rohit T. K. in Bengaluru; Editing by Don
Sebastian)


Source: Newsjyoti Hot Stock News

Rackspace's current-quarter revenue forecast misses estimate

<span class="articleLocatio

n”>Feb 17 (Reuters) – Rackspace Hosting Inc forecast
current-quarter revenue below analysts’ expectation, hurt by a
strong dollar, sending its shares down 4.8 percent in extended
trading on Tuesday.

The web-hosting company said it expects revenue of $477
million to $484 million for the first quarter ending March,
missing analysts’ average estimate of $490.5 million, according
to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Rackspace’s fourth-quarter revenue rose 15.8 percent to
$472.4 million, slightly below the $474 million Wall Street
analysts had expected.

Net income rose to $36.9 million, or 26 cents per share, in
the three months ended Dec. 31 from $20.8 million, or 14 cents
per share, a year earlier.

Rackspace shares closed at $49.87 on the New York Stock
Exchange on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Abhirup Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj
Kalluvila)


Source: Newsjyoti Hot Stock News

RPT-UPDATE 1-Bank of Portugal, Goldman gear up for legal battle over bank loan

(Repeats to additional subscribers)

By Andrei Khalip

Feb 17 (Reuters) – The Bank of Portugal on Tuesday
stuck to a decision to keep a loan linked to Goldman Sachs in a
“bad bank” carved out after the rescue of Banco Espirito Santo
(BES), putting the central bank and Goldman Sachs on course for
a legal battle.

The central bank said any remaining doubts could only be
clarified in court. Goldman responded that it intended “to
pursue all appropriate legal remedies without delay”.

The Wall Street bank and some of its clients lent BES
$835 million in July last year using an entity it
created called Oak Finance Luxembourg SA.

The Bank of Portugal rescued BES with a 4.9 billion euro
($5.6 billion) package in August, carving out a working bank,
Novo Banco, and a legacy entity that kept the exposure to debts
of the bank’s founding Espirito Santo family and is being wound
down. BES shareholders were left with the “bad bank”.

Sources told Reuters last month that Goldman had to write
down its loan to BES in the fourth quarter, cutting the bank’s
profit and some employees’ bonuses, after Portugal’s central
bank effectively wiped out certain creditors.

Goldman would not say how much of the debt it still holds.

The central bank said in a statement on Tuesday the Oak
Finance loan was not transferred to Novo Banco because it had
“serious and well-grounded reasons to consider that Oak Finance
acted for the account of Goldman Sachs International”.

“Under the law, loans in these conditions cannot be
transferred to a bank in transition,” it said, adding that it
had analysed objections by Goldman Sachs with the help of an
independent external consultant, but the bank was not convinced
that Oak Finance was acting independently from Goldman.

A transfer to Novo Banco, it said, would carry “serious risk
of irreparable damage to the public interest”.

“The arguments presented by Goldman Sachs International did
not remove the reasons for doubts on which the Dec. 22 decision
was based…Any remaining doubts can only be clarified in
court.”

A Goldman Sachs spokeswoman said Bank of Portugal’s decision
not to restore Oak Finance’s obligations to Novo Banco “is based
on factual errors and violates basic principles of due process
and fairness”.

“In particular, Goldman Sachs did not hold more than 1.6
percent of the voting rights attached to BES shares. We intend
to pursue all appropriate legal remedies without delay.”

Goldman had said the central bank and Novo Banco had
initially confirmed the transfer of the Oak Finance loan to Novo
Banco, but then retroactively returned these obligations, “which
damages multiple investors, including pension funds”.

($1 = 0.8764 euros)

(Reporting By Andrei Khalip; editing by Susan Thomas)


Source: Newsjyoti Bankruptcy News

UPDATE 1-Bank of Portugal, Goldman gear up for legal battle over bank loan

(Adds Bank of Portugal’s statement, background)

By Andrei Khalip

Feb 17 (Reuters) – The Bank of Portugal on Tuesday
stuck to a decision to keep a loan linked to Goldman Sachs in a
“bad bank” carved out after the rescue of Banco Espirito Santo
(BES), putting the central bank and Goldman Sachs on course for
a legal battle.

The central bank said any remaining doubts could only be
clarified in court. Goldman responded that it intended “to
pursue all appropriate legal remedies without delay”.

The Wall Street bank and some of its clients lent BES
$835 million in July last year using an entity it
created called Oak Finance Luxembourg SA.

The Bank of Portugal rescued BES with a 4.9 billion euro
($5.6 billion) package in August, carving out a working bank,
Novo Banco, and a legacy entity that kept the exposure to debts
of the bank’s founding Espirito Santo family and is being wound
down. BES shareholders were left with the “bad bank”.

Sources told Reuters last month that Goldman had to write
down its loan to BES in the fourth quarter, cutting the bank’s
profit and some employees’ bonuses, after Portugal’s central
bank effectively wiped out certain creditors.

Goldman would not say how much of the debt it still holds.

The central bank said in a statement on Tuesday the Oak
Finance loan was not transferred to Novo Banco because it had
“serious and well-grounded reasons to consider that Oak Finance
acted for the account of Goldman Sachs International”.

“Under the law, loans in these conditions cannot be
transferred to a bank in transition,” it said, adding that it
had analysed objections by Goldman Sachs with the help of an
independent external consultant, but the bank was not convinced
that Oak Finance was acting independently from Goldman.

A transfer to Novo Banco, it said, would carry “serious risk
of irreparable damage to the public interest”.

“The arguments presented by Goldman Sachs International did
not remove the reasons for doubts on which the Dec. 22 decision
was based…Any remaining doubts can only be clarified in
court.”

A Goldman Sachs spokeswoman said Bank of Portugal’s decision
not to restore Oak Finance’s obligations to Novo Banco “is based
on factual errors and violates basic principles of due process
and fairness”.

“In particular, Goldman Sachs did not hold more than 1.6
percent of the voting rights attached to BES shares. We intend
to pursue all appropriate legal remedies without delay.”

Goldman had said the central bank and Novo Banco had
initially confirmed the transfer of the Oak Finance loan to Novo
Banco, but then retroactively returned these obligations, “which
damages multiple investors, including pension funds”.

($1 = 0.8764 euros)

(Reporting By Andrei Khalip; editing by Susan Thomas)


Source: Newsjyoti Bankruptcy News

Ukraine truce unravels as rebels advance into government-held town

A view of an explosion after shelling is seen not far from Debaltseve February 17, 2015.  REUTERS/Gleb Garanich


(Reuters) – Pro-Russian rebels fought their way into an encircled government bastion and were battling street-to-street on Tuesday, all but dashing hopes that a European-brokered peace deal would end months of conflict.

Two days after a truce went into effect, an agreement reached at all-night talks in the Belarussian capital Minsk last week was unravelling rapidly, with both sides refusing to begin pulling back heavy guns on Tuesday as required.

The failed ceasefire has left thousands of Ukrainian troops surrounded, their fate uncertain. The rebels said they had captured hundreds of them and would not let the rest escape unless they surrender. Ukraine said some of its troops had been taken prisoner but denied the number captured was that high.

The Moscow-backed rebels say the ceasefire does not apply at all to the main battle front at the town of Debaltseve, astride a railway hub where they have continued an all-out assault.

The fighting meant both sides spurned a deadline on Tuesday to being withdrawing heavy guns from the frontline. Kiev says it cannot pull guns back as long as the rebels show no sign of halting their advance.

Reuters journalists near the snowbound frontline said artillery rounds rocked Debaltseve every five seconds and black smoke rose skywards as Grad rockets pounded the town.

“Eighty percent of Debaltseve is already ours,” said Eduard Basurin, a rebel leader. “A cleanup of the town is under way.”

He later said negotiations were under way for 5,000 Ukrainian troops trapped in the town to surrender. “Hundreds” had been captured and would eventually be released to their families.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called the rebel assault on the town a cynical attack on the Minsk agreement.Kiev’s military denied the town, which had a peacetime population of 25,000 and is now a bombed-out wasteland, had fallen, but acknowledged losing control of some of it. Some Ukrainian soldiers had been captured, it said, but not hundreds.

Kiev and NATO say the rebel military operation to take Debaltseve is being carried out with the assistance of tanks, artillery and soldiers from Russia’s army. Moscow denies that it has sent its forces to participate in battle for territory that President Vladimir Putin has referred to as “New Russia”.

Washington said it was “gravely concerned” by the fighting at Debaltseve and was monitoring reports of a new column of Russian military equipment heading to the area.

The United States has been considering sending weapons to aid Kiev, although the State Department said on Tuesday getting into a proxy war with Russia was not in the interests of Ukraine or the world.

EU foreign policy chief Francesca Mogherini said Tuesday’s battles were “not encouraging” but she had not abandoned hope for the ceasefire.

“As long as there is a signed deal to which the parties still refer as something that needs to be implemented, I will not say that there is a failure,” she said.

HOPES LOW

Hopes that the deal reached last Thursday would end a conflict that has killed more than 5,000 people were always low after a rebel advance in January ended an earlier truce.

But Western countries appear to have been taken by surprise that the rebels refused even to pay lip service to the ceasefire at Debaltseve, adding to concerns the separatists and Putin want to cement rebel gains before allowing any peace to take hold.

Russia has already annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula, and Western countries believe Putin’s goal is to establish a “frozen conflict” in eastern Ukraine, gaining permanent leverage over a country of 45 million people seeking integration with Europe.

Military trucks and tanks came and went in the largely destroyed village of Nikishine as the rebels pounded nearby Debaltseve with rockets, heavy artillery and mortar bombs.

“We’ll take Debaltseve. It will all be ours. Our homeland will remain our homeland,” said a rebel tank operator who gave his name only as Bass, his nom de guerre.

Observers from the OSCE security group, delegated to monitor the ceasefire under last week’s agreement, have been kept out of Debaltseve by the rebels.

“A MORAL THING”

A new call for peace by Germany, whose Chancellor Angela Merkel was the driving force behind the peace deal after marathon diplomacy last week, fell on deaf ears.

“We do not have the right (to stop fighting for Debaltseve). It’s even a moral thing. It’s internal territory,” said Denis Pushilin, a senior separatist figure. The goal would be “destroying the enemy’s fighting positions”.

Ukraine’s military reiterated in Kiev that its forces could not pull back their big guns while the rebels were shooting. “In the last 24 hours there has been firing so there is no ceasefire and so there is no precondition for a pull-back of heavy weapons,” military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said. Rebel official Pushilin said the separatists would not pull back their guns unless Kiev did.

“We will not do anything unilaterally. That would make our soldiers targets,” he told Reuters in Donetsk, the main city in the east and seat of one of two self-proclaimed rebel “people’s republics”.

The head of the other rebel republic, Luhansk, said some weapons were pulled back there. This could not be independently confirmed.

(Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Natalia Zinets, Alessandra Prentice and Richard Balmforth in Kiev, Polina Devitt in Moscow and Madeline Chambers in Berlin; Writing by Timothy Heritage; Editing by Peter Graff)


Source: Newsjyoti Top Trending

Egypt's Sisi calls for Libya coalition under U.N. mandate

Egyptian Christians hold placards during a protest against the killing of Egyptian Coptic Christians by militants of the Islamic State in Libya, in Cairo February 16, 2015.   REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Egyptian Christians hold placards during a protest against the killing of Egyptian Coptic Christians by militants of the Islamic State in Libya, in Cairo February 16, 2015.

Credit: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany


(Reuters) – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has called for a U.N. resolution mandating an international coalition to intervene in Libya after Egypt’s air force bombed Islamic State targets there.

“There is no other choice, taking into account the agreement of the Libyan people and government and that they call on us to act,” he told France’s Europe 1 radio in an interview aired on Tuesday. “We have to work together to defeat terrorism.”

Egypt directly intervened for the first time in the conflict in neighbouring Libya on Monday after an Islamic State group in the country released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians.

Sisi said a 2011 NATO operation, which played a critical role in toppling Muammar Gaddafi, was an “unfinished mission”.

The Western alliance imposed a no-fly zone on Libya and used air power to try to prevent Gaddafi’s forces attacking civilian areas held by rebels. But it then did little to prevent the country sliding into anarchy and chaos.

“We abandoned the Libyan people as prisoners to extremist militias,” the Egyptian president said.

In Rome, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi also called for diplomatic action within the framework of the United Nations, but did not say whether Italy itself would support any direct military operation.

Libya is separated from the Italian island of Sicily by only a few hundred kilometres of sea, and has been the launch point in recent years for hundreds of thousands of African and Middle East migrants seeking a better life in Europe.

Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni and Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti have both said Rome would be ready to join any military intervention, but Renzi has struck a more cautious note.

The Vatican’s top diplomat urged “a response agreed to by the diplomatic community under the auspices of the United Nations and as rapidly as possible”.

After a meeting with Italy’s president and prime minister,Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that “any armed intervention must be done according to the norms of international law and therefore under a U.N. initiative”.

Pope Francis expressed deep sadness on Monday at the killing of the Coptic Christians. Speaking in the past about Islamic State, he has said it is “lawful” to stop an unjust aggressor.

Sisi urged the outside world to send weapons to Libya’s internationally recognised government, which is based in the eastern city of Bayda after rivals seized power in Tripoli.

The Bayda government has also asked for the lifting of an arms embargo to help it take back control of the country.

(Reporting by Mark John; Additional reporting by James Mackenzie in Rome; Editing by Kevin Liffey)


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