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Seven things you may have missed Wednesday from the world of business


Baxalta shares rise on report of sweetened Shire offer

Shares of biopharma company Baxalta Inc. rose Wednesday as investors gauged a report that Shire PLC may be readying a sweetened takeover bid for Baxalta. Baxalta, which opened a Cambridge research center over the summer, rejected an unsolicited $30 billion offer in August from Shire, which is based in Dublin but run out of Lexington. Late Tuesday, a Reuters report from Europe quoted an unidentified source saying Shire is preparing a new bid for Baxalta, the former biopharma arm of health care giant Baxter International Inc. Shire declined to comment on the report but released a statement from Mark Enyedy, its head of corporate development, that did little to dampen industry speculation. "At any given time, we are looking at deals, large or small, to build Shire into the world's leading rare diseases company," Enyedy said in the company's statement. But he added, "We will not pursue a deal that is not beneficial for our shareholders." Albert Liao, a spokesman for Baxalta, also declined to discuss a potential Shire offer. Baxalta shares rose 11 cents to close at $35.78 on the New York Stock Exchange after rising to $37 earlier Wednesday. Shares of Shire were down 75 cents to $208.25 in light pre-Thanksgiving trading on the Nasdaq. — ROBERT WEISMAN


Prices of two Valeant drugs found to soar 1,700 percent

Two drugs sold by Valeant Pharmaceuticals International to treat cancer-related skin conditions increased in price by about 1,700 percent over the last six years, according to a newly published survey that found big increases in the cost of dermatology drugs across the board. Overall, retail prices of 19 brand-name dermatology drugs from various manufacturers, for acne, infections and other conditions, quintupled from 2009 to this year. Even some generic drugs almost quadrupled in price, according to the study, which was published Wednesday by the journal JAMA Dermatology. "We're not talking about new drugs," said Dr. Steven P. Rosenberg, a dermatologist in West Palm Beach, Fla., who led the research. "We're not talking about exotic drugs. We're not talking about drugs that are listed as being in shortage." The two biggest increases were the Valeant drugs. The drugstore price of a tube of Targretin gel, a topical treatment for cutaneous T cell lymphoma, rose to about $30,320 this year from $1,687 in 2009. Most of that increase appears to have occurred after Valeant acquired the drug early in 2013. A patient might need two tubes a month for several months, Rosenberg said. The retail price of a tube of Carac cream, used to treat precancerous skin lesions called actinic keratoses, rose to $2,865 this summer from $159 in 2009. Virtually all of the increase occurred after 2011, when Valeant acquired the product. A typical treatment requires one tube, Rosenberg said. — NEW YORK TIMES



Flour Bakery, Pinkberry partnering on frozen yogurt

Flour Bakery + Cafe's sticky buns and frozen yogurt? Pinkberry New England said Wednesday it is collaborating with Flour Bakery + Cafe to offer "Joanne Chang's Sticky Bun," a flavor based on the chef's iconic sticky bun. The frozen yogurt will taste of cinnamon, pecans, and caramel, as close to the real deal as Pinkberry could get, said Trippe Lonian, chief executive of NE Frog Pond LLC, Pinkberry's area developer for most of New England. Chang opened the first Flour location in the South End 15 years ago and is now scouting locations for a fifth bakery, perhaps in Harvard Square. "Joanne Chang's Sticky Bun" flavor will be swirled from Dec. 1 through Dec. 31 at 10 Pinkberry New England locations: Newbury Street, South Station, Prudential Center, North End, Harvard Square, Chestnut Hill, Hingham, Wellesley, South Shore Plaza in Braintree, and North Beverly. The actual sticky buns, in quarter-sized portions, also will be available as a frozen yogurt topping in December. Pinkberry New England is collaborating with local chefs to bring new flavors as part of its Celebrity Swirl campaign, and 10 percent of the unique flavor's proceeds will go to the chef's campaign of choice, in Chang's case, No Kid Hungry. — JESSICA GELLER



Redstone associate challenges Viacom chief’s mental competence

LOS ANGELES — A friend and associate of Sumner M. Redstone, who has a controlling interest in both Viacom and CBS Corp., challenged his mental competence in a detailed filing with California Superior Court on Wednesday. The friend, Manuela Herzer, in a petition with the Los Angeles County court's probate division, said Redstone, 92, for weeks has been unable to "communicate reliably or competently manage his own health care." The petition specifically asks the court to determine whether Herzer, who once had a romantic relationship with Redstone, was improperly removed Oct. 16 from exercising control of an advance health-care directive that purportedly gave her authority over decisions regarding his health a month earlier. Gabrielle Vidal, a lawyer for Redstone, said in a statement: "Ms. Herzer's claim that she filed this lawsuit out of concern for Mr. Redstone is preposterous. It is a meritless action, riddled with lies, and a despicable invasion of his privacy. It proves only that Ms. Herzer will stop at nothing to pursue her personal financial agenda." — NEW YORK TIMES



Planet Fitness agrees not to offer unlimited tanning

ALBANY, N.Y. — A national chain of gym and fitness centers has agreed as part of an agreement struck with New York's attorney general not to offer unlimited indoor tanning to members. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says Planet Fitness will also provide training for employees who operate tanning equipment and pay $50,000 in penalties and legal costs. Schneiderman says there's nothing safe about indoor tanning. He says investigators found several Planet Fitness locations in violation of regulations requiring warnings, consent forms, and free protective eyewear. A company spokesman said Wednesday that Planet Fitness does not advertise or promote any benefits of tanning. The company says its franchise owners were reminded that they must comply with the regulations as soon as Schneiderman raised his concerns. The Newington, N.H., chain has 100 locations in New York. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Toyota says 1.6 million vehicles have defective Takata air bags

TOKYO – Toyota Motor Corp. is recalling 1.6 million vehicles for defective air bags supplied by embattled Japanese manufacturer Takata Corp. The recall includes 22 models sold in Japan, including the Corolla and Vitz, manufactured from January 2004 through December 2005, as well as vehicles in Italy, Britain, and Spain, although those numbers were still unclear. It doesn't include any vehicles in the United States. Takata inflators can explode with too much force, sending out shrapnel. At least eight people have been killed worldwide and hundreds injured. The problem has led to the recall of 19.2 million vehicles in the United States, and government regulators are investigating. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



New-home sales rebound 10.7 percent in October

WASHINGTON — Purchases of new US homes rebounded in October from a 14-month low and order backlogs reached an eight-year high, indicating a pickup in residential construction. Sales jumped 10.7 percent, the most since August 2014, to a 495,000 annualized pace, Commerce Department data showed Wednesday. The number of homes sold but not yet started climbed to 177,000 in October, the highest level since July 2007. — ASSOCIATED PRESS