Talking Points

Seven things you may have missed in business Thursday

Nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital plan to picket outside the building on May 17.
Nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital plan to picket outside the building on May 17. David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File 2015/Globe Staff


Brigham and Women’s nurses to walk line

The union that represents more than 3,300 nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is planning to picket next month amid contentious contract negotiations. The Massachusetts Nurses Association accused hospital officials of refusing to pay fair raises while chipping away at benefits. Nurses plan to picket outside the hospital on May 17. Union officials said the hospital is also proposing changes that would result in increases in health insurance premiums and less time off for new nurses. Hospital officials said they are proposing generous benefits and 5 percent annual raises for most nurses, with a 1 percent increase for those at the top of the pay scale. — PRIYANKA DAYAL MCCLUSKEY



Priceline CEO quits after violating conduct code

Online travel giant Priceline Group Inc. said chief executive Darren Huston is resigning after an investigation found he had a personal relationship with an employee that violated the company’s code of conduct. Huston’s resignation is effective immediately, the company said Thursday. Former chief executive and chairman Jeffery Boyd, who led Priceline for a decade, will be interim CEO while Priceline looks for a new leader. Huston also resigned as CEO of Booking.com, the group’s largest unit. Booking.com chief operating officer Gillian Tans will take over as permanent chief executive of that Priceline subsidiary. During his tenure Huston led the $2.6 billion acquisition of restaurant-reservation service OpenTable Inc. and bought a major stake in Chinese online travel company Ctrip to get a foot in the door of one of the world’s fastest-growing travel markets. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

Health Care

Express Scripts battles drug price increases

Express Scripts Holding Co. has a new program to combat price spikes on old drugs. Customers, such as employers or insurance plans, that sign up for the new program will give Express Scripts advance permission to try to shift patients to cheaper alternative medicines when an old drug jumps suddenly in price. Express Scripts will also try to steer patients from pharmacies that the benefit manager judges are working with a drug maker to push an expensive treatment or circumvent rules designed to encourage use of cheaper treatments. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Mortgage rates show a rise

Long-term US mortgage rates rose this week, off their 2016 lows but remaining historically low during the spring home-buying season. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 3.66 percent from 3.59 percent last week. The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages advanced to 2.89 percent from 2.85 percent last week. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


House rejects administration broker standards

The GOP-controlled House has voted to overturn new Obama administration rules requiring stricter standards for brokers about retirement investments. The 234-183 vote to reject the rules was backed by Republicans who warn it will limit options available to investors and could cause brokers to abandon retirement savers with smaller accounts. The new rules require brokers to act as so-called fiduciaries that put their clients’ best interests first, rather than steering them toward investments with higher fees for the broker. At stake are about $4.5 trillion in 401(k) accounts and more than $7 trillion in IRAs. Problems often occur when people who are retiring ‘‘roll over’’ their 401(k)s into individual retirement accounts and are sold questionable products. President Barack Obama has promised to veto the bill. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Denmark links eating habits to climate change

The meat industry contributes more to greenhouse gas emissions than the combined exhaust from every form of transportation on Earth, with beef the biggest culprit. Denmark’s Council of Ethics, a government think tank, said that in light of these facts, Danes are ethically obligated to change their eating habits and that a sliding-scale tax should be imposed on foods that are proportional to their ‘‘climate impact.’’ The proposal now goes before lawmakers. Under the plan, a tax would first be imposed on beef, then would be expanded to all red meat, and possibly further food sources based on the sliding-scale model. — WASHINGTON POST


Health Care

Biotechs companies wheel and deal

The health care sector saw a lot of deal action Thursday, with Abbott Laboratories spending $25 billion for another device maker, while its pharma spinoff AbbVie Inc. plunked down nearly $6 billion for a biotech developing a raft of cancer treatments. Meanwhile Sanofi, the French drug maker that owns Genzyme in Cambridge, made a $9.3 billion bid for San Francisco pharmaceutical firm Medivation, part of its effort to expand its portfolio of cancer treatments. Medivation has so far resisted overtures from Sanofi. Abbott Labs’ purchase of St. Jude Medical Inc. is its biggest ever and aims to strengthen the medical device maker’s stake in cardiovascular care. The combined company will offer devices in nearly every area of cardiovascular care. And AbbVie, which was spun out of Abbot as a separate company in 2013, agreed to buy Stemcentrx Inc. for $5.8 billion. Fidelity Investments is among those that stand to profit in the deal, having invested tens of millions of dollars in Stemcentrx last August, in several of its mutual funds. Based in San Francisco, Stemcentrx has five experimental drugs in human trials, with its leading candidate a treatment for small-cell lung cancer, a deadly subset of the disease with few existing options for treatment. The drug, known as Rova-T, could be on the market by 2018 and eventually have sales of as much as $5 billion a year, according to AbbVie chief executive Rick Gonzalez. — ASSOCIATED PRESS and BLOOMBERG NEWS