In Brief


January 31, 2009|By From Sun news services

Daschle amends tax returns to report more


WASHINGTON: Former Sen. Tom Daschle, picked by President Barack Obama to lead his health reform efforts, recently filed amended tax returns to report $128,203 in unpaid taxes and $11,964 in interest, according to a Senate document obtained by the Associated Press. The White House acknowledged yesterday that "some tax issues" had emerged in connection with the nomination, but a spokesman said the president is confident the former Senate Democratic leader will be confirmed as the new health secretary. Daschle filed amended tax returns for 2005, 2006 and 2007 to reflect additional income for consulting work, the use of a car service and reductions in charitable contribution deductions. He filed the returns after the announcement that Obama intended to nominate him to head the Health and Human Services Department. Most of the additional taxes resulted from unreported income from the use of a car service provided him by a close friend and business associate.

Advisers recommend ban on drug Darvon


WASHINGTON: Government medical advisers recommended a ban yesterday on Darvon, a prescription medicine that has been used to treat pain for more than 50 years but left a trail of problems such as addiction and suicide. A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted 14-12 to recommend withdrawing Darvon after a daylong hearing examining its risks and benefits. The FDA is not required to follow the recommendations of its advisers but often does. Darvon was first approved in 1957, when there were few alternatives for treating pain except aspirin and powerful narcotics. Now mainly marketed as Darvocet, which includes a dose of acetaminophen, the drug remains one of the top 25 most commonly prescribed medications. The consumer group Public Citizen had petitioned the FDA to withdraw Darvon because the drug offers relatively weak pain relief and poses an overdose risk, with the potential to be used in suicides.

Fannie Mae worker pleads not guilty


HAGERSTOWN: A fired Fannie Mae contract worker pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges that he planted a virus designed to destroy all the data on the mortgage giant's 4,000 computer servers nationwide, according to federal prosecutors. If the virus had been released as planned today, the Justice Department said, the disruption could have cost millions of dollars and shut down operations for a week at the largest U.S. mortgage finance company. Rajendrasinh B. Makwana, 35, of Glen Allen, Va., pleaded not guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore to one count of computer intrusion.

Cases revived in Pfizer's overseas drug tests


WASHINGTON: A federal appeals court revived yesterday two lawsuits brought against Pfizer by Nigerian families who say the giant drugmaker used their children in an illegal test of an experimental antibiotic. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York ruled that the suits, dismissed earlier by a lower-court judge who said they should have been brought in Nigeria, can now go forward in the U.S. courts. The lawsuits seek unspecified damages on behalf of the families, who say Pfizer violated international law by testing the drug, known as Trovan, on perilously ill children without their knowledge. Eleven children died during the 1996 clinical trial. Other children developed brain damage and crippling arthritis.

Analog boat frequency distress signal retired


BOSTON: Beginning tomorrow, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will stop using its satellites to monitor the 121.5 MHz frequency used by older analog boater distress beacons. NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard, which responds to maritime distress calls, will instead limit their watch to newer digital signals coming across the 406 MHz frequency.

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