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TALKING POINTS

Biogen to pay $900m to settle whistle-blower suit over kickbacks

Biogen is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass.Steven Senne/Associated Press

LIFE SCIENCES

Biogen to pay $900m to settle whistle-blower suit over kickbacks

After a decade of litigation, Biogen has agreed to pay $900 million to settle a federal whistle-blower lawsuit by a former employee who accused the Cambridge-based drug firm of paying kickbacks to hundreds of doctors to get them to prescribe its multiple sclerosis drugs. Under the terms of the settlement, Biogen will pay more than $843 million to the US government and more than $56 million to 15 states for overbilling Medicare and Medicaid insurance programs. Biogen first disclosed in July that it reached an agreement in principle, but US Attorney Rachael S. Rollins announced on Monday that the company, the whistle-blower, and federal prosecutors had finalized the deal. The former employee, Michael Bawduniak, alleged that Biogen paid kickbacks to doctors from 2009 to 2014 to get them to prescribe the drugs Avonex, Tysabri, and Tecfidera. The company claimed the payments were for speaking and consulting fees for educational sessions, but Bawduniak said they were payoffs. As a result, he said, Biogen caused the federal government and states to overpay for the medicines in violation of the federal Anti-Kickback Statute. Under the federal whistle-blower law, Bawduniak will receive $266.4 million from the settlement, according to his lawyer, Thomas Greene, of Boston. “We thank Mr. Bawduniak for uncovering this behavior and bringing it to light,” said Rollins. “This matter is an important example of the vital role that whistle-blowers and their attorneys can play in protecting our nation’s public health care programs.” Biogen denied the allegations but said it settled to avoid continuing litigation. — JONATHAN SALTZMAN

E-COMMERCE

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Another Prime Day event is coming

Amazon said Monday that next month it will hold a second Prime Day-like shopping event, making it the latest major retailer to offer holiday deals earlier this year to entice cautious consumers struggling with tighter budgets. During the Oct. 11-12 event, Amazon Prime members will get early access to discounted items. The “Prime Early Access Sale” follows Amazon’s annual Prime Day in July. The Seattle-based e-commerce giant has long used these kinds of sales events to lure people into its Prime membership, which offers faster shipping and better deals for $139 a year. But October’s event will be the first time it has held a major sales drive twice in a year. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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CRYPTOCURRENCY

Interpol issues notice for South Korean crypto company founder

Interpol has issued a “red notice” for the search and arrest of Do Kwon, the South Korean cofounder of Terraform Labs, the Seoul Southern District Prosecutors’ Office said on Monday. South Korean authorities had requested assistance from the global police agency to trace Kwon’s whereabouts earlier this month. Kwon and his company faced investigations by the South Korean government after the value of his cryptocurrencies, Luna and TerraUSD, plummeted and contributed to a $300 billion crash across the crypto economy in May. The plunge caused an uproar among investors and led to calls for an inquiry into Kwon and his company after allegations of tax evasion and fraud. — NEW YORK TIMES

A Peloton logo is seen on the company's stationary bicycle on Nov. 19, 2019, in San Francisco.Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

EXERCISE EQUIPMENT

Another Peloton executive is leaving

Dara Treseder, who has been Peloton’s chief marketing officer since 2020, is leaving the ailing exercise equipment maker to run marketing at Autodesk, a move that comes two weeks after Peloton’s cofounder and former chief executive, John Foley, announced his exit amid a broader management shake-up. The executive departures leave in question the future of the brand. Treseder, who will remain as Peloton’s head of global marketing and communications through Oct. 4, helped oversee the introduction of four new products, including its $3,195 rowing machine. Treseder, who had previously worked at Apple, Goldman Sachs, and General Electric, also set up a content partnership with Beyoncé. — NEW YORK TIMES

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METAVERSE

Walmart enters the virtual world

Walmart is making its first move into the metaverse. Starting Monday, the retailer will unveil two immersive experiences on Roblox Corp.’s virtual platform. Walmart Land will feature fashion, beauty, and entertainment items, while Walmart’s Universe of Play will showcase toys, the company announced. Walmart follows companies from Nike to VF Corp. in a bid to get consumers’ attention via virtual universes, where elements of video conferencing, gaming, social media, and e-commerce blend together. Roblox has a community of more than 52 million daily users, and many of them are younger people, who are particularly valuable targets for corporate powerhouses. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

FAKE MEAT

Sales of plant-based meats drop

Just a few years ago, with a blockbuster initial public offering from Beyond Meat and the unveiling of an Impossible Whopper at Burger King locations nationwide, plant-based meats were ascendant. Now, after once enjoying double-digit growth, sales are not just flat but declining, due to possible saturation of the US market, according to Deloitte Consulting. Sales of refrigerated meat alternatives at retailers are down 10.5 percent by volume for the 52-weeks ending September 4, according to data from Information Resources Inc. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

A customer waits for service at a Optus phone store in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. The Australian government said on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, it was considering tougher cybersecurity rules for telecommunications companies after Optus, the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier, reported personal data of 9.8 million customers had been breached. Mark Baker/Associated Press

CYBERSECURITY

Australia looking into tighter regulations following data breach

The Australian government said on Monday it is considering tougher cybersecurity rules for telecommunications companies and blamed Optus, the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier, for an unprecedented breach of personal data from 9.8 million customers. Optus said last Thursday it had become aware the day before of the cyberattack which obtained the details of 9.8 million people — of Australia’s population of 26 million. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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WORKPLACE

Worthless meetings come at a high price

Unnecessary meetings are a $100 million mistake at big companies, according to a new survey that shows workers probably don’t need to be in nearly a third of the appointments they attend. The survey, conducted over the summer by Steven Rogelberg, a professor of organizational science, psychology, and management at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, asked 632 employees across 20 industries to study their weekly calendars and gauge how much time they actually spent in meetings, what they got out of them, and how they responded to invitations. Employees spend about 18 hours a week on average in meetings, and they only decline 14 percent of invites even though they’d prefer to back out of 31 percent of them. Reluctantly going to noncritical meetings wastes about $25,000 per employee annually, and projects out to $101 million a year for any organization with more than 5,000 employees. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

TECHNOLOGY

Apple to make iPhone 14 in India

Apple will make its iPhone 14 in India, the company said on Monday, as manufacturers shift production from China amid geopolitical tensions and pandemic restrictions that have disrupted supply chains for many industries. Apple unveiled its latest lineup of iPhones earlier this month. They will have improved cameras, faster processors, and longer lasting batteries at the same prices as last year’s models. India is the world’s second-largest smartphone market after China but Apple iPhone sales have struggled to capture a large share of the market against cheaper smartphones from competitors. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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The logo of GlaxoSmithKline Plc outside the pharmaceutical company's headquarters in London, U.K. Matthew Lloyd/Photographer: Matthew Lloyd

PHARMACEUTICALS

GSK to be headed by two women

GSK hired Julie Brown as chief financial officer to work alongside chief executive Emma Walmsley, putting two women in charge of the UK drug maker — a milestone in an industry dominated by men. Brown will leave the fashion brand Burberry Group and take up her new post on May 1 as current CFO Iain Mackay retires, GSK said Monday. The 60-year-old Brown isn’t new to the pharma industry. She worked for 25 years at AstraZeneca and held a role as non-executive director for Switzerland’s Roche Holding. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

CONSUMER PRODUCTS

Unilever CEO to retire next year after GSK deal fails

Unilever chief executive Alan Jope plans to retire at the end of next year following a tumultuous period where the company botched a potential $53 billion deal and irked investors with lackluster growth. Jope, a long-term veteran of the consumer goods company, will leave after only five years in the role, with no named successor currently in place. The move comes after Jope tried unsuccessfully to buy GSK’s consumer health unit earlier this year and less than three months after activist investor Nelson Peltz was granted a board position after building a stake in the UK maker of Magnum ice cream and Dove soap. — BLOOMBERG NEWS