Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Over the Verizon

Here is what I saw:

Online advertising at heart of Verizon-AOL deal

Sorry for dropping that call. 

"Verizon Wireless, Sprint pay $158 million to settle scam charges" by Anne Flaherty Associated Press  May 12, 2015

WASHINGTON — Verizon Wireless will pay $90 million and Sprint $68 million to settle allegations that the mobile giants allowed phony charges on their customers’ monthly bills so they could keep a cut of the profits, federal regulators said Tuesday.

Already $ettled here. They just took the money and sprinted.

The two mobile providers had partnered with third-party vendors that sell premium text messaging services, such as for daily horoscopes, trivia, and sports scores. But consumers who had not signed up for the services were being billed anyway, typically about $9.99 a month, according to the Federal Communications Commission and several state attorneys general.

Regulators said they launched an investigation after receiving numerous complaints that the carriers had refused to refund the charges.

Both companies said in statements e-mailed to reporters on Tuesday that they had stopped allowing premium text messaging before the government investigation began. Sprint spokesman Jeffrey Silva said the company had already returned ‘‘tens of millions of dollars’’ to its customers.

‘‘This settlement gives our customers who believe they were wrongfully billed for [premium text messaging] services the ability to get a refund, and allows Sprint to continue to focus on enhancing the customer experience,’’ Silva wrote.

Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Debra Lewis said the settlement ‘‘reflects Verizon’s continued focus on putting customers first.’’ She added that the company had ‘‘rigorously protected’’ its customers from unauthorized charges.

(Blog editor speechless at the disconnect and flat-out brazenness. I wonder how much they pay Lewis to loose her soul)


The FCC and other regulators cheered the move as a signal that the practice, known as ‘‘mobile cramming,’’ would no longer be tolerated.

Forgive me for asking this about the greatest economic system every devised, but why was it tolerated in the first place? What is this rampant theft going on at the top of corporate AmeriKa? That's the bad guy corruption. WTF?

‘‘For too long, consumers have been charged on their phone bills for things they did not buy,’’ FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement.

The settlement suggests that cramming was widely used by wireless providers. Last year, for example, T-Mobile agreed to pay $90 million for cramming, while AT&T Mobility agreed to a $105 million settlement.

Already ran through that.

The investigation drew in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as well as law enforcement in every state.

‘‘It’s becoming more and more common to use our phones and not our wallets when making purchases,’’ Attorney General Brian Frosh of Maryland said. ‘‘As mobile payment systems become more prevalent, scammers will attempt to find ways to manipulate these applications.’’

Never mind the hackers(??).

Most of the money paid by the providers under the settlement will be used to make refunds to duped consumers.

They still made more than enough profits of the scam to cover it.

Verizon’s $90 million settlement stipulates that at least $70 million will go toward a ‘‘consumer redress program,’’ $16 million will go to states, and $4 million is for fines. Sprint’s $68 million settlement includes $50 million for a consumer program, $12 million for state governments, and $6 million in fines.

The fines and funds going back to government are what we call kickbacks. Now you know why the schemes were allowed to continue and only a fine was issued. 

Massachusetts will receive a payment of $455,000.

Two websites have been set up to provide information for customers seeking refunds:

Nice of 'em, huh?! 

Maybe if they hadn't stolen from you in the first place.... $igh.


Over the top:

"Vertex wins key approval for cystic fibrosis treatment" by Robert Weisman Globe Staff  May 12, 2015

An experimental cystic fibrosis therapy developed by Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. won key backing Tuesday from a panel of independent medical experts, paving the way for the Food and Drug Administration to approve it for use by 8,500 US patients.

The FDA ruling is set for July 5. Officials usually follow the recommendations of their advisory panels.

The medicine, known as Orkambi, could eventually help about half the 30,000 Americans and 70,000 people worldwide who suffer from the most common form of the genetic lung disease.

It also has the potential to generate billions in profits for Vertex, of Boston.

“I’m overwhelmed with emotion,” said cystic fibrosis patient Jeff Masters, 37, a medical device salesman from Ann Arbor, Mich., who has taken Orkambi in a clinical trial....

There was a lone dissenter. 


Look, if the stuff helps people fine, I'm all for it; however, it's become such an industry now. More about bu$ine$$ than medicine.

"FDA questions benefits of Vertex cystic fibrosis treatment" by Robert Weisman Globe Staff  May 08, 2015

Analysts project Vertex will lose more than $400 million this year but earn more than $1.1 billion in 2016, the first full year its combination medicine could be available to patients. Profits could climb to $2.2 billion in 2017 and $3.2 billion in 2018, according to a consensus of forecasts. The forecast anticipates sales climbing from $1 billion this year to $5.2 billion in 2018.

Vertex has promised to pay a dozen executives more than $53 million in retention bonuses if the company earns an annual profit in any of the next three years. Chief executive Jeffrey M. Leiden would be paid $14.9 million, and other top executives would receive up to $8.2 million each three years from now. The awards are intended to assure stability at the company as it enters a pivotal expansion period, according to Vertex.

Sick of that excu$e yet?


Mark Schoenebaum, biotech and pharmaceuticals analyst for research firm Evercore ISI in New York, said the briefing document was tough. He suggested the FDA could approve the therapy but also direct Vertex to conduct another postapproval study using only Kalydeco to determine whether the combination with lumacaftor adds benefit....

They approved it.


RelatedDespite no drugs on market, Lexington biotech fetches $8b

Also see:

Market watchers wonder if biotech IPO boom can continue

Two Boston biotechs cutting 200 jobs

Spinning the roulette wheel in life sciences casino

Patrick bet $1 billion of borrowed tax dollars on it.

Boston, Cambridge are ground zero for life sciences

Akamai hunting for new headquarters in Boston

Kendall Square: A report on who’s there

I see Katz, Berkowitz, and Weiss at the propaganda pre$$'s town hall meeting (you might want to leave early to beat the traffic).

Research cuts ripple across biopharma sector 

They need tax loot to get healthy!

US firms spending more on research

190 Losing Jobs at Tecomet in New Bedford

Could Massachusetts lose its edge in life sciences?

The new science of medicine

Stoking a vital startup scene

"So is all this outsourcing leading to job losses among those well-educated workers who once toiled in the labs of young biotechs? Possibly. But.... it's all virtuou$.

Just fell off a cliff....


Vertex stock rises 1.2%

"There’s a lot of enthusiasm for these young companies, both from investors and also large pharma companies, which often snap them up once their clinical trial results look promising enough. But this latest crop of newly public biotech companies are not creating scads of new jobs. At least, not yet. Looking at the six Bay State biotechs that have gone public this year, on average they employed 17.5 people. That’s smaller than the Red Sox’s active roster."

My hunger for that shrunk, sorry.

Also see: $200m fund to be approved for meningitis victims of NECC


Verizon workers vote to authorize strike, if necessary

I didn't $ee that coming, and I'm sorry I missed it. That's quite a crowd.

Verizon workers to stay on job despite expired contracts 

Sorry. I missed reading that until last night (I generally cease at the op-ed page although all articles are noted).

A decade of dispute ends with Akamai winning $51 million

Oh my!