National / International News

Shelf vs. Script: Why Merck's offloading allergy pills

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:08

If you think a licensed pharmacist is the only real difference between NyQuil and Ambien, think again. The two are the product of completely different business models.

"Oh they’re very different," says Les Funtleyder, author of Healthcare Investing. "One is bulk manufacturing, one is heavy-duty R&D." 

That heavy duty research and development? $5 billion. That’s how much it costs to get a single prescription drug to market these days.

Why would Merck want to focus on that business?

"The return on investment is much higher in the prescription market," says JB Silvers, a professor of health finance at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management. He says Merck is well positioned with a strong pipeline of cancer and diabetes drugs. "If you can do well there with patented drugs that have protection against competition, you can pretty much charge what you want."

Not so in the world of allergy pills and arch support. The consumer drug market is all about competitive pricing and catchy advertising

"It’s a volume market, it’s like most retail," says Silvers. "You have a smaller margin, but if you sell a whole lot of it, you do really well."

That’s what Bayer does best. "Bayer is going to be able to leverage their global reach to take these products to places where they haven’t been sold before," says Dan Mendelson, CEO of Avalere Health

Mendelson says when it comes to branding, marketing and selling things like sunscreen and nasal spray, Bayer simply has a better machine.

Tweets from Rakesh Agrawal, but with Getty Images

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:06

Rakesh Agrawal, a former PayPal executive who "mistakenly" (who can really say?) tweeted some ridiculous and offensive statements about some co-workers, has become the star of his own Twitter soap opera written by his own hand. After Agrawal sent the corporate hate tweets, he apologized and blamed the messages on a new phone.

PayPal then announced, on Twitter of course, that Agrawal was no longer employed by the company and also gave us some wonderful life advice about treating each other with respect, which apparently PayPal felt the need to give the world:

Rakesh Agrawal is no longer with the company. Treat everyone with respect. No excuses. PayPal has zero tolerance.

— PayPal (@PayPal) May 3, 2014

After that, Agrawal sent out a series of messages that were hard to follow, especially without pictures. We searched Getty Images and our photo libraries to see if we could help visualize what is going on behind the curtain:

My guest list builds itself.

— Rakesh Agrawal (@rakeshlobster) May 6, 2014

Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Tareq Salahi and Michaele Salahi on February 4, 2010.

How do I give equity to a three year old.

— Rakesh Agrawal (@rakeshlobster) May 6, 2014

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Laura Bush Hosts Annual White House Easter Egg Roll.

I am not hiring at the moment. Got a 100x team that will change the world.

— Rakesh Agrawal (@rakeshlobster) May 6, 2014

Or things will escalate.

— Rakesh Agrawal (@rakeshlobster) May 6, 2014


Your move Stan.

— Rakesh Agrawal (@rakeshlobster) May 6, 2014

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

 Executive producer Stan Lee arrives at the premiere of Marvel's 'Thor: The Dark World' at the El Capitan Theatre on November 4, 2013 in Hollywood, California.

Seriously I need no investors.

— Rakesh Agrawal (@rakeshlobster) May 6, 2014

China's Alibaba Files To Go Public In The U.S.

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 13:02

Alibaba is the largest online and mobile commerce site in the world, controlling a huge portion of the Chinese market.

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Colombia raids 'spying' office

BBC - Tue, 2014-05-06 12:56
Colombia says it has raided an office that illegally intercepted rebel and government communications to try to undermine ongoing peace talks in Cuba.

An ex-PayPal executive airs grievances (very) publicly

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-06 12:51

Rakesh Agrawal, a former PayPal executive who mistakenly tweeted offensive statements about his co-workers, later appeared to be doubling down on Twitter by threatening to make a former colleague’s text messages public.

“If you don’t stand up for me, I will start sharing your text messages to me,” Agrawal tweeted to a colleague he referred to as “Stan.” “Do the right thing. Your move, Stan.”

If you don't stand up for me I will start sharing your text messages to me. Do the right thing.

— Rakesh Agrawal (@rakeshlobster) May 6, 2014

Sandra Crowe, author of "Since Strangling Isn't an Option,” a book about working with difficult people, says social media presents real pitfalls for companies.

“People who have a big need for power are going to be able to hold companies hostage,” Crowe said, adding that companies like PayPal can either ignore the tweets of an unhappy former employee like Agrawal, or fight back.

"You can make his reputation so bad in the tech world, that nobody will want to hire him, do business with him, do deals with him, and maybe not even email him,” Crowe said.

Of course, once an employee has been fired, or has resigned from a job, the former employer may hold little sway.

“The ability to extract any consequence is limited, because the individual no longer has the fear of losing their job,” said Stephanie Trudeau, a labor and employment attorney at the law firm of Ulmer and Berne.

Still, as much as this is an age of social media, it is also one of litigiousness. Trudeau says if Agrawal makes public messages that were sent to him privately, he could find himself facing an invasion of privacy lawsuit.

McIntyre tape in Boston archive

BBC - Tue, 2014-05-06 12:45
The former republican prisoner whose interviews led to Gerry Adams' recent arrest reveals to BBC Northern Ireland's Spotlight programme that he gave an account of his own IRA activity to a controversial American archive.

Federer has second set of twins

BBC - Tue, 2014-05-06 12:35
Roger Federer's wife Mirka gives birth to boys Leo and Lenny - following twin daughters Myla and Charlene, who were born in 2009.

Helmer to fight Newark seat for UKIP

BBC - Tue, 2014-05-06 12:20
The UK Independence Party chooses MEP Roger Helmer to fight the Newark parliamentary by-election next month.

White House Will Let Senators Read Secret Drone Memo

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 12:20

The memo makes the legal case for the government's ability to target Americans abroad using a drone strike. The White House is hoping the decision will head off a confirmation battle.

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Police to make hate crime arrests

BBC - Tue, 2014-05-06 12:14
Police are to review the number of patrols in areas of Belfast where hate attacks have taken place.

The making of Narendra Modi

BBC - Tue, 2014-05-06 12:12
The spectacular rise of Narendra Modi

As States Vote In Primaries, Voter ID Laws Come Under Scrutiny

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 12:03

Voters in eight states are required to show photo IDs. Some experts say the tide is turning toward striking down ID requirements. Others say not so fast.

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'Skull Cracker' sighted in London

BBC - Tue, 2014-05-06 11:58
"Skull Cracker" armed robber Michael Wheatley, who absconded while allowed out of an open prison, has been seen in London say police.

Toronto mayor 'turned back' from US

BBC - Tue, 2014-05-06 11:55
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford turned back from the US shortly after he said he was entering rehab for substance abuse last week, Canadian media say.

Russia rules out fresh Ukraine talks

BBC - Tue, 2014-05-06 11:53
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rules out holding a new round of talks in Geneva to defuse the Ukraine crisis unless pro-Russian opposition groups were involved.

Usain Bolt tweets over stolen shoes

BBC - Tue, 2014-05-06 11:52
Olympic Athlete Usain Bolt tweets his 3.3 million followers after running shoes he signed are stolen in Croydon.

20 Years After Apartheid, South Africa Asks 'How Are We Doing?'

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 11:49

The African National Congress should cruise to victory in Wednesday's election. But a party that once represented the new South Africa faces growing criticism for corruption and complacency.

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And the markets breathed again...

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-06 11:43

From the Marketplace Datebook, here's a look at what's coming up Wednesday, May 7, 2014:

  • In Washington, the Federal Reserve is scheduled to release its monthly consumer credit report.
  • The Senate Special Aging Committee discusses the fight against cancer.
  • Actor Michael E. Knight of "All My Children" fame turns 55.
  • On May 7, 1824, in Vienna, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony premiered.
  • And the Dow Jones closed above 15,000 for the first time just one year ago.

Most Fitness Apps Don't Use Proven Motivational Techniques

NPR News - Tue, 2014-05-06 11:33

I downloaded the app. So why don't I feel motivated to get out there and run? Researchers say the problem's not entirely me. Many fitness apps don't use behavioral change methods that could help.

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Brazil is not ready to host FIFA

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-05-06 11:31

Brazil takes the international stage in just 37 days, when the first match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off. Some experts say the country isn't ready, though a part of that isn't exactly a surprise.

"Brazil always does things at the last minute, and the fact that Brazil is so late perhaps could be predicted," says the BBC's Wyre Davis, reporting from Rio de Janeiro. "I think what couldn't be predicted was this 'perfect storm,'" referring to the crowds of unhappy Brazilians protesting in the streets.

The protests, he says, deal with the fact that $15 billion is being spent on the World Cup alone--without any sign of how surrounding communities will benefit.

"A lot of people are saying, 'Well hang on, what do we get out of this?'" he said. "'OK, Brazil might win the tournament, which is good news for us as soccer fans, but where's everything else that was promised?'"

Among the promises, Davies says, are integrated transport and increased infrastructure. This doubt of benefits has led urban planning professor Christopher Gaffney to proclaim Brazil has already lost the World Cup.

"We've concentrated on the wrong projects, we've overbuilt in all these ways. So in the end, it's going to be a big party, but Brazilians will have a hangover for the next generation."


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