Pfizer to raise prices on 41 prescription drugs next year despite pressure from Trump

Ian Read, chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer, speaks as President Donald Trump, left, listens during an announcement on a new pharmaceutical glass packaging initiative in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., July 20, 2017. 










Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ian Read, chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer, speaks as President Donald Trump, left, listens during an announcement on a new pharmaceutical glass packaging initiative in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., July 20, 2017. 

Pfizer will raise prices on 41 of its prescription drugs in January after initially putting off those plans this summer amid pressure from President Trump.

The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

“We believe the best means to address affordability of medicines is to reduce the growing out-of-pocket costs that consumers are facing due to high deductibles and co-insurance, and ensure that patients receive the benefit of rebates at the pharmacy counter,” Pfizer’s outgoing CEO Ian Read said in a statement.

Trump criticized Pfizer this summer when the company said it would raise prices on about 40 drugs. He tweeted that Pfizer and other drugmakers “should be ashamed” for increasing drug prices.

Pfizer reversed course and said it would hold off on making these increases until the end of the year or until Trump’s blueprint to lower drug prices went into effect. On an earnings call with Wall Street analysts last month, Read said by the end of the year, the company’s strategy on price increases would be back to “business as normal.”

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Amazon HQ2 could push 800 people into homelessness, economist says

Amazon’s HQ2 is slated to bring 25,000 well-paying jobs to both New York City and Crystal City, but it’s also expected to push rents and home prices upward. That side effect has advocates for the homeless and hungry worried.

“If people making decisions at the local level don’t have some sense of making sure that they have housing available to accommodate that growth, the natural effect of that is going to be that rents are going to go up and people at the bottom of the rental market, people with the lowest incomes, are going to be pushed out the bottom,” Steve Berg, vice president of programs and policy for the Washington, D.C. organization the National Alliance to End Homelessness told MarketWatch.

HQ2 could lead to more homelessness, one estimate found

Amazon’s

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 new headquarters are expected to lead to 0.1-0.2% in additional annual rent growth in the D.C. metro area and a less than a 0.1% increase in rent growth in New York City, according to an analysis from rental firm ApartmentList. That works out renter households paying an additional $1,391 – $2,182 over 10 years in New York City and $3,750 – $5,757 over 10 years in Washington, D.C., a January analysis by ApartmentList found. Homelessness increases at a rate of 15% for every $100 per month median rent goes up, a 2014 study published by the Journal of Urban Affairs found.

Due to rising rent costs in the two HQ2 cities, Amazon’s new headquarters could contribute to 14 additional people in homelessness annually in D.C. and 830 additional people in New York, Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at real estate data site Zillow

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  calculated, though Zillow noted that these numbers are subject to change.

“This isn’t a firm look into the future,” Matt Kreamer, Zillow’s data public relations manager said. “It’s is all based on current projections and we don’t know how each region will respond to the influx of workers, how accelerated building might be, etc. In a perfect world, there is enough lead time and planning and building to mean nobody becomes homeless.”

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A homeless person holds a sign while panhandling during freezing temperatures in New York in February 2018.
NYC and DC may be better positioned to absorb HQ2’s impacts

New York City and the Washington, D.C. areas may be better-equipped to absorb the changes the new headquarters will bring than other locations, Igor Popov, chief economist at real estate site Apartment List said. The availability of subsidized housing has the largest effect on homelessness, he noted, and HQ2 is not expected to directly affect the supply of subsidized housing, he said. The New York City Housing Authority and Virginia Housing Authority did not respond to requests for comment.

“We found that the DC and NYC metros would experience some of the smallest rent impacts from HQ2, and splitting the facilities across two locations will dampen that effect even further,” Popov said.

“Nobody — including Amazon — knew they would grow so much. We had a huge influx of people moving here as a result, and it just wasn’t planned for.”


— Heather Redman, partner at Seattle venture capital firm Flying Fish Partners

The two cities are also much better positioned to prepare for significant economic growth than Seattle was before the arrival of Amazon, said Heather Redman, former chair of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and current partner at Seattle venture capital firm Flying Fish Partners. “Nobody — including Amazon — knew they would grow so much,” she said. “We had a huge influx of people moving here as a result, and it just wasn’t planned for.”

Amazon’s Seattle legacy

In Seattle, where Amazon was founded, rents have risen 39.8% over the past five years and median incomes jumped $10,000 in a single year in 2015.

The rate of homelessness in the city surpasses that of other major cities including New York and Los Angeles, a Seattle Times analysis found, with 54 homeless people per 10,000 residents.

But the issue of homelessness in Seattle is of course complex, Alison Eisinger, executive director of non-profit the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, said. While Amazon’s fast expansion in the area had a significant effect on homelessness, it was not the sole cause.

“There is not a straight line between Amazon coming and homelessness,” she said. “But what I want to be clear about is that Amazon certainly contributed to the affordable housing crisis in Seattle, and the affordable housing shortage in turn absolutely contributed to the homelessness crisis in our community.”

Because they can plan in advance, the cities Amazon’s headquarters will move to should take measures to prevent negative effects, she said. Amazon itself can also address the issue head on: in Seattle, it made a number of moves meant to address homelessness, including allowing homeless shelter Mary’s Place to move into one of its buildings and employing people from FareStart, a program that trains people from low-income backgrounds to work in the food industry in its office buildings.

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A kids playroom inside a former Travel Lodge motel that Amazon owns and offered to nonprofit Mary’s Place as a temporary shelter for women and their families in Seattle, Washington. It houses up to 60 people a night.

An Amazon spokeswoman told MarketWatch the company is committed to the communities where its employees live and work. It has awarded grants of up to $7,500 to 100 schools across the U.S. to feed kids in need of breakfast through the program No Kid Hungry and has donated more than $40 million to homelessness causes in its home city of Seattle. These moves were not enough to offset the negative effects Amazon has had on the housing market, Eisinger said — more concrete measures should be taken.

“Their work has been charitable but not transformative in nature,” she said. “The question is, how much are they willing to be good corporate citizens and contribute in advance to maintaining existing housing stock, hiring locally, and being a tide that lifts all boats instead of swamping working people.”

How DC and NYC are preparing

In Northern Virginia officials are already laying the groundwork to handle the changes HQ2 will bring, Katie Cristol, chair of the Arlington County Board said. The city will contribute $7 million per year over the next 10 years to affordable housing units targeting people who make 40-60% of the median income as part of a package pulled together for Amazon’s arrival.

“The challenge of tackling housing affordability in the region was with us on Monday, and it is still with us after the new headquarters was announced,” she said. “We believe these revenues will help fund a safety net for our neighbors in need.”

Also see: As more Americans become rent-burdened, homelessness rises in the costliest areas

Other cities that competed to host HQ2 had their own plans for preventing homelessness if Amazon had selected them. Dallas would have required Amazon to commit $100 million toward addressing public education and homelessness. Boston offered to devote $75 million in funding over 10 years to maintain home prices in the proposed HQ2 area.

As part of its agreement with the city of New York to build HQ2, Amazon has agreed to donate space on its campus for a tech startup incubator and for use by artists and industrial businesses, and will donate a site for one new primary or intermediate public school. The NYC Economic Development Corporation did not respond to a request for comment. In Northern Virginia, Amazon will contribute a pedestrian bridge to be built over the next 10 years.

Only 3 out of 10 homes are affordable to low-income families

New York politicians are calling for more measures to counteract rising housing prices as Amazon moves its headquarters into the industrial Long Island City neighborhood. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the recently-elected Democrat Congresswoman representing Queens, said Amazon and other corporations should “[pay] their fair share” to maintain affordable rent and living wages in New York.

“Without quick action to increase the availability of affordable rental homes targeted to people with the lowest incomes, Amazon’s decision to open headquarters in New York City and northern Virginia will exacerbate the severe housing shortage that exists in those communities”


— National Low Income Housing Coalition President and CEO Diane Yentel

In both NYC and Northern Virginia, there are just three affordable rental homes for every 10 of the lowest-income families and three out of every four of the lowest income people in these communities pay more than half of their income on rent, National Low Income Housing Coalition President and CEO Diane Yentel said.

“Without quick action to increase the availability of affordable rental homes targeted to people with the lowest incomes, Amazon’s decision to open headquarters in New York City and northern Virginia will exacerbate the severe housing shortage that exists in those communities,” she said. “Opening new Amazon offices in these high-cost cities without addressing the severe shortage of affordable rental homes will result in further increased rents, more frequent evictions and displacement and, in worst cases, homelessness.”

Unique challenges in HQ2 cities

More than 63,000 people in New York City were homeless as of December 2017, a record number that marks an 82% increase in the past decade, according to the Coalition for the Homeless. The number of homeless people in Washington, D.C. has been on the decline for the past two years, and as of December 2017 there were 6,904 homeless people in the district.

Homelessness in New York has been exacerbated by a lack of affordable housing, Giselle Routhier, policy director at New York City-based advocacy organization Coalition for the Homeless. The group called on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to invest in “deeply subsidized housing” for New York’s record homeless population to offset the effects of Amazon’s arrival.”

“At a time when affordable housing is scarce, our trains are broken, and homelessness is at record levels, the last thing we should be doing is throwing money at one of the richest companies in the world,” Routhier said. “Amazon’s expansion will certainly boost our economy, and that’s great — but we shouldn’t be paying the rent for trillion-dollar corporations when so many families can’t pay theirs.”

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‘Something serious happened:’ Princess Cruises confirms death of female passenger

A puzzled passenger who was apparently aboard The Royal Princess wrote a cryptic post Tuesday on cruise community website Cruise Critic.com.

The 19-deck ship had departed Nov. 9 from Port Everglades on a seven-day Southern Caribbean cruise and is set to return to Fort Lauderdale on Saturday.

“Last night something serious happened on Royal Princess,” read the post. “At 4:30 am there was a ship wide security announcement broadcast directly into the cabins. Security personnel was told to gather on deck 7. Another announcement was made shortly after that only broadcast in the halls and common areas.”

The cruiser continues to report that as the 3,600-passenger ship docked in Aruba the captain announced that there had been “a serious incident and no one could leave as local authorities were coming onboard.”

The passenger was apparently confused over what had transpired, but more details are trickling out about the “serious incident.”

The Santa Clarita, California-based cruise line confirmed the death of a 52-year-old American passenger in a statement. According to the Associated Press, the FBI and Aruban authorities are currently investigating.

Aruba news website Diario reports the woman plunged from an upper deck onto a lifeboat after struggling with a “muscular” man who was seen choking her before the fall.

“We are deeply saddened by this incident and offer our sincere condolences to the family and those affected,” the cruise line continued. “An official cause of death has not been announced.”

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US crude posts 6th straight weekly loss, settling at $56.46, down 6.2% this week

Morgan Stanley warned that a cut by the Middle East-dominated group might not have the desired effect.

“The main oil price benchmarks – Brent and WTI – are both light-sweet crudes and reflect this glut,” the U.S. bank said.

“OPEC production cuts are usually implemented by removing medium and heavier barrels from the market but that does not address the oversupply of light-sweet.”

OPEC’s de facto leader, Saudi Arabia, wants the cartel to cut output by about 1.4 million bpd, around 1.5 percent of global supply, sources told Reuters this week.

The Saudis would like Russia to cut output but Moscow has yet to commit to joint action.

Iraq resumed exporting oil from its northern Kirkuk oilfields on Friday, pumping 50,000-100,000 bpd, an oil ministry spokesman told Reuters. Some analysts had expected the volumes to be much higher, at closer to 300,000 bpd.

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Virginia Dunkin’ Donuts owner calls police on black customer for using free Wi-Fi without purchase

Video footage of a now-viral interaction between a black customer and a white store manager at a Virginia Dunkin’ Donuts has sparked outcry and heated debate online, after franchise owner Christina Cabral called police on patron Tirza Wilbon White for allegedly using the store’s Wi-Fi without making a purchase.

“I had just sat down when a woman I had never seen before walked up and asked, ‘Are you going to buy coffee?’” White told Yahoo Lifestyle of the Nov. 7 incident, which occurred at one of the Fairfax locations of the coffee and pastry chain. “I told her I planned on buying coffee after I got settled, but not if it were mandated.”

According to Yahoo, White then asked the woman, whom the outlet identifies as Cabral, if a white customer would be held to that same standard, prompting Cabral to say that White must make a purchase or leave.

PIZZA-SPITTER AT DETROIT’S COMERICA PARK SENTENCED TO PROBATION

In a series of three videos posted to Facebook on Nov. 8, White shares the conversation she had with Cabral, as well as the subsequent dialogue she had with the male police officer who responded to the scene.

“You’re under the Dunkin umbrella, I just looked this up, it is free Wi-Fi in Dunkin Donuts,” White begins in the clip that has since been viewed over 32,000 times.

“But as franchisee I have the right to offer you free Internet or not,” Cabral said

“Do you have a business card? I’m gonna contact corporate,” White responded

“You don’t need my business card to do that with,” Cabral argues. “I get to make my own rules. … I need to ensure safety to my customers,” she continued. “It’s nothing against you,” she says, citing previous issues with customers. “We’re just trying to make our customers feel safe.”

In the second and third videos shared to social media, the law enforcement official tells White to leave the store “because she wants you to.”

“Am I in trouble if I choose not to leave?” White asks.

“Yeah, if you choose not to leave, I will order you to leave. … I would issue you a summons and then if you don’t sign the summons, then I would have to arrest you,” he says.

Taken aback, White ultimately leaves the scene, and later voiced her frustrations on Facebook.

“A franchise owner attempted to bully me. She lied about corporate policy, attempted to force me to make a purchase to be in the store because she has a loitering problem. She called the police to force me to leave when I told her she was profiling the gentleman and me. In her mind I was the ‘people’ who loiter. In reality, I was a customer in her store, until yesterday, and I have been for more than 2 years,” she wrote.

“I am still angry, more than 24 hours later, and I want justice for the humiliation I experienced.”

Soon after, White reported that two reps for Dunkin’ Donuts had personally called her to apologize, as per Yahoo.

Meanwhile, reps for the Massachusetts-headquartered coffee chain Dunkin returned Fox News’ request for comment with the following statement:

“We and our franchisees want every customer who walks into a Dunkin’ restaurant to be treated with dignity and respect. This did not happen in a situation at a restaurant in Fairfax, Virginia. We have apologized to the customer, on behalf of both the brand and the franchisee who owns and operates this restaurant, but we know that is not enough,” a spokesperson said.

“Our franchisees are independent businesspeople, who so long as they comply with the law, may set their own policies in regards to certain things like Wi-Fi usage and whether to limit its use to only those who make a purchase,” they added. “However, we are focused on helping our franchisees best serve our diverse customer base and are currently exploring how we can improve every aspect of our restaurant operations from store signage, recommended policies, and training for franchisees and their crew members. We are committed to doing better.”

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Facebook commenters reacted to the news with mixed opinions.

“Really? All of this because you want to seat in her restaurant, taking up a table, not buy a .80 cent cup of coffee and use their wi-fi. I am sorry, but you are in the wrong. Even tho they have ‘free’ wi-fi, it is common sense, and called being an adult to understand that if you want to seat in a table, use their wi-fi, just buy a cup of coffee. Nothing to do with skin color or race,” one said.

“Is there a homeless situation in the area? Purchasing something could be a policy because of loitering,” another weighed in.

“As an owner of a business that deals with the general public Cabral should be better at conflict resolution and not be so confrontational. She could have handled this so much better. It would have been better to wait and see if she was a customer or a loiterer and then address it if needed. Smart business sense would be to consider what revenue your business could lose in the long run. How much is wi-fi costing her per customer really, c’mon,” one chimed in. “If Cabral’s herself believed her intentions were warranted then she wouldn’t have lied about her position being Q&A. These white women need to realize there are people having real problems and not waste the time of law enforcement with petty issues.”

“If you refuse to purchase in any store or establishment you can be ask[ed] to leave by the police. They are a business. Free is not FREE that is the ladys [sic] interpretation. AND no the law does not [require] police to be posted. That is why the cop backed the franchisee,” another offered.

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