FDA hepatitis drug OK sparks three-way price war
A three-way price war broke out among three major pharmaceutical companies when the Food and Drug Administration gave AbbVie Inc. the go-ahead to market Mavyret as a cure for hepatitis C virus. AbbVie’s drug will cost about $26,200 for an eight-week course, making it the low-cost entry in competition against Merck’s Zepatier ($54,600 for a 12 weeks), and Gilead Sciences’ Solvaldi ($84,200 for 12 weeks) and Harvoni ($95,500 for 12 weeks). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 2.7 to 3.9 million people in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis C virus.
Court to NIMBYs: How “hard” should it be?
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a petition that sought to delay or prevent construction of a new runway at Hillsboro Airport which has surpassed the nearby Portland International Airport as Oregon’s busiest. In the “Not In My Back Yard” (NIMBY) lawsuit, five residents and a non-profit organization called Oregon Aviation Watch claimed the Federal Aviation Administration failed to take a “hard look” at the environmental impacts that the new runway would create. The court held that the FAA met the “hard look” requirement with an assessment that was not arbitrary, capricious or otherwise not compliant with federal law.
“Travel ban” case poses threat to political candidates
The Center for Competitive Politics and the Public Policy Legal Institute filed a friend-of-the-court brief that urges the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm First Amendment protection to the utterances of political office seekers when it decides the constitutionality of President Trump’s executive order that imposes a temporary ban on refugees from countries that are terrorism hotbeds. The brief, which supports neither side in the legal dispute, asks the high court to provide notice that candidate speech “enjoys a high level of protection due to its importance to voters” and that “controversial, offensive, and false speech is protected in campaigns.”
Electronic storage reduces court space needs
Bringing a missionary zeal to its goal of transferring massive judicial records and case files from rooms filled with storage cabinets to electronic records is beginning to pay a dividend to American taxpayers in the form of reduced costs to construct or rent office space. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said the reduced use of paper in Chicago, Denver and West Palm Beach have helped reduce the need for space and are saving millions of taxpayer dollars for rental payments.
Russian cyberthief goes to prison, UK man indicted
Maxim Senakh, 41, of Veliky Novgorod, Russia, will spend 46 months in federal prison before he can go home. Senakh, who was taken into custody by Finland authorities and turned over to the U.S., was sentenced after pleading guilty to charges of installing malicious software (malware) on tens of thousands of computers throughout the world and using them to collect millions of dollars in fraudulent payments, the Department of Justice said. In a related matter, DOJ said a federal grand jury indicted Marcus Hutchins, a citizen of the United Kingdom, for creating and distributing malware that harvested passwords that opened websites of banking systems in Canada, Germany, Poland, France and the UK. Hutchins was arrested last month in Las Vegas, Nev.
Bolivia gunrunners caught at FedEx counter
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrested a Naples, Fla., couple for attempting to smuggle firearms to Bolivia. The couple, Jiminez Borda, 38, and Alejandra Mayo, 34, paid nearly $6,000 in cash to send five boxes that were labeled “documents,” but Federal Express workers called police who opened the boxes and discovered they contained firearms, including AK-47 and AR-15 type weapons. ATF said the couple is suspected to shipping as many as 50 boxes to Bolivia during the past 12 months.
Robocaller faces hefty FCC fine
The Federal Communications Commission proposed an $82.1 million fine against Best Insurance Contracts and its owner, Philip Roesel, for placing 82,106 telemarketing calls to sell health insurance to vulnerable consumers, including the elderly, the infirm, and low-income families. Roesel was charged with violating the Truth in Caller ID Act by deliberately falsifying caller ID information to hide his true identity, a practice called “spoofing.” The FCC said it believes Roesel was responsible for millions of robocalls, but the fine is based on calls that were verified by the agency’s investigators.
Jailbreak was doomed from the start
Margie Shephard, 51, of Kansas City, Mo., pleaded guilty to forging a court document to secure the release of a fellow inmate from a federal prison camp in Bryan, Tex., the Department of Justice said. Shephard, who is serving a 10-year sentence for bank fraud and identity theft, forged a federal judge’s signature on a fake order to reduce the sentence of Leann Turner, 48, of Blue Springs, Mo. Shephard mailed the phony document to her sister who faxed it to the prison from a grocery store in Kansas City, but prison officials spotted the document as a forgery as soon as it was received.
Heat claims life of Mexican alien
A 35-year-old Mexican national was found dead on Otay Mountain and his 22-year-old wife, also a Mexican national, was rescued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents. The couple had apparently been abandoned when they couldn’t keep pace with six other Mexican nationals who were apprehended about five miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border near Dulzura, Calif.
Texas man smuggled items to China and Russia
Peter Zuccarelli, 62, of Plano, Tex., pleaded guilty to charges that he conspired to smuggle and illegally export radiation hardened integrated circuits (RHICs) for use in the China and Russia space and military programs, the Department of Justice said. Zuccarelli admitted that he received approximately $1.5 million from his Russian and Chinese customers to acquire the RHICs and shipped them in boxes that identified their contents as “touch screen parts.”
FIRE files brief in campus speech case
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education filed a friend-of-the-court brief that urges the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the dismissal of a lawsuit that challenged the University of California-San Diego’s withdrawal of funds for all student publications. UCSD has for years tried to rid itself of The Koala, a satirical magazine that takes pride in its obnoxious offensiveness. A federal district judge dismissed the suit because applying the funding withdrawal to all student publications made the action a permissible content-neutral restriction of speech rights. FIRE argues that the school’s funding decision was an impermissible pretext to silence the magazine’s speech.
Rip ‘n Read is a daily compilation of press releases found on hundreds of websites that are maintained by the federal government, think tanks, watchdog groups and national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.
The press releases and documents linked to this report were posted on their websites on Thursday, August 3