16 pharmaceutical firms suedFour food and drug retailing...

BUSINESS DIGEST

March 05, 1994

16 pharmaceutical firms sued

Four food and drug retailing companies sued 16 of the nation's largest pharmaceutical companies yesterday, accusing them of selling their brand-name prescription drugs to hospitals and other medical practices at lower prices than they charge supermarkets. Kroger Co., Albertson's Inc., Safeway Inc. and the Vons Cos. Inc. filed the federal lawsuit in Cincinnati. The drug companies have denied similar unfair pricing allegations.

Met Life fined $1.5 million

Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. was fined $1.5 million by Pennsylvania regulators yesterday for misleading sales practices and ordered to offer refunds to 40,000 policyholders in the state. Separately, Florida regulators proposed a $20 million fine against Met Life to settle a multistate investigation and cover penalties in 47 states and the District of Columbia.

Northwest cuts airfares 45%

Minneapolis-based Northwest Airlines sparked a new round of airfare cuts yesterday, with discounts up to 45 percent for spring travel. Earlier this week, America West announced discounts of up to 52 percent for travel through June 15 on its longest U.S. flights. American, United, Delta, Continental and Trans World airlines all said they would match the discounts in competing markets.

Pfizer to review IGENE product

IGENE Biotechnology Inc., a Columbia-based research company, yesterday announced that Pfizer Inc. will evaluate IGENE's patented product, AstaXin, that gives farm-grown salmon, trout and other related fish the natural light orange color of wild fish. The four-month agreement could produce the first profits for IGENE since it was founded in 1981, the company said.

FHP to buy TakeCare HMO

FHP International Corp. of Fountain Valley, Calif., said yesterday it has agreed to buy TakeCare Inc., based in Concord, Calif., after boosting an earlier offer to nearly $1.1 billion from $800 million. The deal will create the fifth-largest U.S. health maintenance organization.

Blockbuster may revise deal

Blockbuster Entertainment Corp., fighting dissident shareholders over its $8 billion merger with Viacom Inc., admitted in a court filing yesterday that it may have to revise the deal to win stockholder approval. Under the deal Viacom plans ** to use a $1.25 billion investment by Blockbuster toward Viacom's $10 billion takeover of Paramount Communications Inc.

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