Struggling Valeant swings Walgreens deal

Valeant Pharmaceuticals regained some credibility with upset investors thanks to its announcement Tuesday of a new distribution deal with Walgreens and plans to line up more pharmacies to sell its products after a scandal forced it to cut ties with a key distributor, Philidor. The news drove up shares of the beleaguered Canadian drug company, but it still faces U.S. government scrutiny over big medicine price hikes and allegations it used Philidor, a mail-order pharmacy, to steer payers toward Valeant's more expensive drugs, rather than cheaper alternatives. Investors will be listening for more details on the deal with Walgreens, the largest U.S. drugstore chain, and Valeant's other plans on Wednesday, when it hosts an investor webcast to update its financial forecast and discuss business operations and research.

Consumer prices steady, core inflation rises

U.S. consumer prices were unchanged in November as declines in energy and food held down overall costs. But core inflation was up 2 percent over the 12 months ending in November. That was the fastest pace in more than a year and the kind of increase Fed officials want to see to justify the start of a round of interest rate increases. The flat reading for consumer prices last month followed a modest 0.2 percent increase in October and outright declines in August and September, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. Core inflation, which excludes energy and food, was up 0.2 percent in November and has risen 2 percent over the past 12 months, the fastest gain since a similar 2 percent rise for the 12 months ending in May 2014. Over the past year, overall inflation has risen just 0.5 percent.

Merck gets OK for surgery revival drug

Federal health authorities have approved a new drug that helps patients recover from the numbing effects of certain surgical drugs. The approval of Bridion marks a victory for Merck & Co. Inc., which had been seeking marketing clearance for the injectable medication for years. Bridion is the first drug that reverses the effects of certain muscle-relaxing drugs given along with anesthesia during surgery. Patients treated with Bridion recovered faster from surgery than those who did not receive the drug, according to the FDA's review of studies involving 456 patients. But the FDA first rejected the drug in 2008 due to allergic reactions and bleeding problems seen in some patients. The agency then repeatedly canceled and rescheduled meetings to review the drug, most recently in March of this year.

Rigas seeks early release from prison

The imprisoned 91-year-old founder of what was once one of the nation's largest cable television companies is seeking early release from prison as he nears death from cancer, his lawyers say in court papers. Family members of Adelphia Communications Corp. founder John Rigas have been told to "deal with end-of-life decisions," including the possibility of hospice care, the lawyers wrote in papers submitted last week to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood in New York City. The judge on Monday ordered the government to respond to the request for early release by next Tuesday. Rigas, once the owner of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, is scheduled to be released from prison in January 2018 after serving a 12-year sentence in a $1.9 billion looting and debt-hiding scandal that led to the collapse of Adelphia.

Mack Trucks to lay off 400 workers in Pa.

Mack Trucks Inc. plans to lay off 400 people, or more than 20 percent of the workforce at its Pennsylvania manufacturing facility. The Greensboro, N.C.-based company cites weakened demand. The layoffs take effect Jan. 25. The plant in Lower Macungie Township, Pa., assembles every Mack truck built for the North American market and export. It currently has about 1,850 workers. Mack is part of the Volvo Group. Volvo announced Tuesday it plans to lay off 200 people from its powertrain facility in Hagerstown, Md. The facility manufactures Mack engines, transmissions and axles.

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