In the Region Md. House panel kills bill to expand...

BUSINESS DIGEST

March 24, 2001

In the Region

Md. House panel kills bill to expand open-heart programs

Legislation that would have allowed more Maryland hospitals to perform open-heart surgery died in a House committee yesterday as the "haves" outmuscled the "have-nots" in a battle of the lobbyists.

The vote in the House Environmental Matters Committee was a blow to such hospitals as St. Agnes and Greater Baltimore Medical Center, which have been seeking permission to start their own cardiac surgery programs for years. They were opposed by such institutions as Johns Hopkins, St. Joseph and Sinai, which argued that new open-heart programs would drain business from them and compromise health care quality.

The state's open-heart programs are limited to five hospitals in the Baltimore area, three in the Washington suburbs and one each on the Eastern Shore and in Western Maryland.

Human Genome begins human tests of Albuferon

Human Genome Sciences Inc. said yesterday that it has begun the first stage of human testing for its newly acquired drug Albuferon in patients with Hepatitis C, a virus-caused liver inflammation that affects an estimated 170 million people worldwide.

The fusion drug is designed to last longer in the body than the standard treatment, giving longer-lasting therapeutic effects and potentially reducing doses and side effects for patients.

The Phase I clinical trial will involve 40 people at multiple sites.

BFGoodrich to evaluate Hopkins lab's tiny detector

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and BFGood- rich Co. have agreed that the company will evaluate a new technology developed in the lab with the option to license it.

The technology being evaluated is a miniature version of a detector that navigation and control subsystems use to determine a satellite's location relative to the sun. Two inventors at the Laurel lab, Kim Strohbehn and Mark Martin, miniaturized the detector system to fit onto a microchip.

The agreement will allow BFGoodrich to market the technology for the first time.

City ad agency among 90 buying Worldwide network

Richardson, Myers & Donofrio Inc. this week joined 90 independent agencies around the globe in acquiring Worldwide Partners Inc., the largest strategic business network of independent, owner operated marketing and communications firms. Before taking ownership, the 90 agencies had been members of Worldwide Partners, a network that RM&D, a Baltimore advertising and public relations firm, joined in 1997.

OTG of Bethesda buys storage software firm

OTG Software Inc. of Bethesda said yesterday that it is acquiring Smart Storage Inc., a Massachusetts company that provides DVD and CD storage management software. OTG is buying Smart Storage for 3.55 million shares of OTG stock.

Shares of OTG closed yesterday at $5.94, down 38 cents, making the deal worth about $21.1 million. The deal is expected to close by the end of the month.

Elsewhere

American to charge $10 fee in bid to get more Web customers

American Airlines will charge a $10 fee on paper tickets to get more customers to buy tickets through its Internet site, BusinessWeek reported, citing an internal American memo.

The fee will take effect April 9, the magazine said. American, the second-largest U.S. airline, declined to comment.

Airlines save money when travelers buy tickets on the Internet because the carriers don't pay travel-agent commissions or other costs associated with a paper ticket. An Internet ticket sale costs Southwest Airlines Co. less than $1, but a sale through a travel agency costs it $10.

EU clears Northrop on purchase of Litton

The European Union's administrative arm gave antitrust clearance yesterday to Northrop Grumman Corp.'s purchase of fellow conglomerate Litton Industries Inc., a move that would create a defense contracting giant.

"To a large extent, the businesses of Northrop and Litton are complementary, and the overlaps between their activities are very limited," the commission said.

Northrop announced its plan to buy Litton for $3.8 billion in cash in December. The company will also assume $1.3 billion in Litton debt. Northrop said it believes U.S. regulators will approve the deal by Thursday.

Boeing shifts plant work from Wash. to Kansas

Boeing Co. said it will shift fuselage assembly work on the company's 757 jetliner from a plant in Renton, Wash., to one in Wichita, Kan., affecting about 500 jobs.

The displaced workers will be offered other jobs within the company, Boeing said. As part of the shift, Finmeccanica SpA's Alenia Aerospazia unit will take over some 757 fuselage panel work now done in Wichita.

Boeing, which said this week it plans to move its headquarters out of Seattle after 85 years there, has been selling or closing plants to save money.

Fed is recommending quarterly bank disclosures

The Federal Reserve offered recommendations yesterday on how big banks can improve disclosure of certain financial information.

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