Business Digest


April 21, 2005

In The Region

Prescription drug spending accounts for 13% of Md. health bill

Prescription drug spending in Maryland was $3.5 billion, or about 13 percent of total health costs, according to a Maryland Health Care Commission study based on insurance claims in 2003.

The median spending per person - meaning half generated more spending and half less - was $204, with $73 coming out of pocket from patients and the rest covered by insurers. While total health spending increased 5 percent, out-of-pocket costs rose 13 percent, as many insurance plans increased co-payments and deductibles.

The study, released yesterday, is the commission's first detailed look at drug spending. The agency issues a variety of reports on health cost trends each year. Because the 2003 survey is based on insurance claims data, it doesn't account for prescriptions that weren't covered by insurance, and doesn't cover people over 65, many of whom don't have drug coverage.

Constellation to provide power to MedStar Health

Constellation Energy Group Inc. has locked up a five-year agreement to supply power to MedStar Health, a Baltimore-Washington health care provider.

Constellation NewEnergy, a subsidiary of the Baltimore power supplier, is to provide more than 30 megawatts annually, the utility said. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

MedStar Health operates Union Memorial Hospital, Harbor Hospital, Franklin Square Hospital Center and Good Samaritan Hospital in the Baltimore area.

TVI opens plant that makes respiratory filter canisters

TVI Corp. of Glenn Dale opened a plant there yesterday that will produce respiratory filter canisters used to protect emergency personnel responding to chemical, biological or nuclear attacks.

The Prince George's County plant is the only one of its kind in the United States. Previously, such filters had to be purchased by foreign producers, the company said. The filters will be marketed to police, fire and other emergency responders as part of TVI's homeland security product line.

TVI has expanded rapidly since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.


Acid drainage fears lead U.S. to review permit for W.Va. mine

The federal Office of Surface Mining plans to review West Virginia's approval of a mining permit that environmental groups claim violates a federal policy prohibiting new permits that create long-term sources of acid mine drainage.

The West Virginia Rivers Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and Trout Unlimited requested the review after losing an administrative appeal of the permit issued to Maryland-based Mettiki Coal LLC for its underground E Mine in Grant and Tucker counties.

Conrad Black, partner quit posts at holding company

Media tycoon Conrad Black and longtime business partner F. David Radler have resigned as officers and directors of Ravelston Corp. Ltd., the private holding company behind the troubled Hollinger media empire.

A lawyer for Ravelston told Ontario Superior Court in Toronto about the resignations yesterday as the firm sought bankruptcy-court protection from creditors.

According to an affidavit filed by Black's longtime deputy, Peter G. White, Ravelston has been drained of cash because it no longer receives multimillion-dollar management fees from its subsidiaries Hollinger Inc. and Chicago-based newspaper operator Hollinger International Inc.

Most of the fees were halted in 2003 after a committee of Hollinger International directors alleged that Black and a team of executives had improperly received more than $32 million.

This column was compiled from reports by Sun staff writers, the Associated Press and Bloomberg News.

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