Talking Points


Deal struck for Quell pain technology


Deal struck for Quell pain technology

Since 2015, Waltham-based NeuroMetrix has sold more than 100,000 of its $249 Quell devices, which customers wear on the calf to treat chronic pain in different parts of the body through electrical stimulation. Now, a giant British pharmaceutical company has taken notice. NeuroMetrix announced Wednesday that GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to pay the company $5 million to own and market Quell technology outside the United States. GlaxoSmithKline will pay up to $21.5 million more if the venture meets certain development and marketing goals. Under the deal with GSK Consumer Healthcare, NeuroMetrix will continue to own Quell technology in the US market. The two companies will jointly fund development of Quell technology from 2018 through at least 2020. “We are excited by the opportunity to partner with GSK Consumer Healthcare to expand access to Quell technology among chronic pain sufferers around the world,” said Dr. Shai Gozani, president and chief executive of NeuroMetrix. Quell treats chronic pain from arthritis to sports injuries and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Its maker says the contraption blocks pain signals by stimulating nerves in the leg. The company, which has 50 employees, was founded in labs of Harvard-MIT in 1996 and went public in 2016. — JONATHAN SALTZMAN


Chamber launches initiative to increase business for minority companies

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce has launched its Pacesetters Initiative, in which local enterprises of color will be paired with Chamber member organizations with the goal of increasing business opportunities for minorities. The first 10 companies to commit to the initiative are: the Boston Red Sox, Comcast, Eastern Bank, Gilbane Building Company, John Hancock, Northeastern University, P&G Gillette, Partners HealthCare, Tufts Health Plan, and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. Modeled after the Cincinnati Regional Chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator, the program is a result of a year of collaboration between the Chamber’s Committee on Economic Opportunity and select Chamber members. Pacesetter companies are committed to increasing contracts with minority-owned businesses as their suppliers of products and services. Matchmaking events will be held to pair them with qualified suppliers. — MARGEAUX SIPPELL


Walmart to provide packets to get rid of unused painkillers

Walmart is helping customers get rid of leftover opioids by giving them packets that turn the addictive painkillers into a useless gel. The retail giant announced Wednesday that it will provide the packets free with opioid prescriptions filled at its 4,700 US pharmacies. The small packets, made by DisposeRX, contain a powder that is poured into prescription bottles. When mixed with warm water, the powder turns the pills into a biodegradable gel that can be thrown in the trash. It works on other prescription drugs and for pills, tablets, capsules, liquids or patches, according to DisposeRx. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


H&M names diversity leader after hoodie debacle


Swedish fashion retailer H&M says it has appointed a diversity leader following the outcry over its ad that showed a black child dressed in a hoodie with the words ‘‘coolest monkey in the jungle.’’ H&M first announced the appointment Tuesday on its Facebook page. In an e-mail to The Associated Press on Wednesday, the retailer said Global Manager for Employee Relations Annie Wu, a company veteran, would be the new global leader for diversity and inclusiveness. The image of the boy modeling the sweatshirt appeared online earlier this month and prompted accusations that H&M was racist, or at least oblivious. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Tiffany sales rebound on $450 rulers, $90 pencil holders

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Tiffany & Co. posted a rebound in its holiday sales, helped by a new home and accessories collection that included $90 black pencil holders, $275 silver shaving brushes, and $450 rulers. Same-store sales, a closely watched benchmark, rose 3 percent in the final two months of 2017, the New York-based retailer said Wednesday. Tiffany had reported a decline of 1 percent in the previous year on that basis. Tiffany put its holiday hopes on a new set of luxury home-decor items, which became a hit with shoppers. Several of the items, such as the pencil holders and rulers, sold out on the company’s website. Some of the highest-priced products are still available, including a $9,000 sterling-silver ball of yarn and a $10,000 bird’s nest with three porcelain eggs in Tiffany blue. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Volkswagen says it had record sales in 2017

German automaker Volkswagen had record sales of 10.74 million vehicles last year, but its bid to remain the world’s largest carmaker was disputed by rival Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi. Volkswagen’s sales rose 4.3 percent from 10.30 million in 2016, when the company passed Japan’s Toyota to become the globe’s largest auto producer for that year. Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, told a committee of the French National Assembly that his group was the world’s biggest with 10.6 million vehicles last year, the French business publication Les Echos reported. Ghosn said that 200,000 of Volkswagen’s vehicles were trucks that should not count. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Trader Joe’s to remove chemicals from register receipts

Cleanup in the checkout aisle. Trader Joe’s, the grocer known for its eclectic products (and Hawaiian-shirt-clad workers), will remove two controversial substances from its register receipts, according to a statement on the company’s website. The chemicals — BPA and BPS — are widespread in register and ATM receipts, according to findings by the Ecology Center, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based organization that works with consumers and companies to promote greener products and practices. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Miramax could buy the Weinstein Co., reuniting it with its roots

Miramax, the film studio founded by Harvey and Bob Weinstein and now owned by Qatar-based BeIN Media Group, is interested in acquiring the embattled brothers’ Weinstein Co., according to people familiar with the sale process. A sale to Miramax, acquired by BeIN in 2016, would unite the film libraries of the companies and potentially allow the brothers to have an ongoing role in the business, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. The Los Angeles Times reported earlier Tuesday that Miramax had made an offer. Weinstein Co., producer of Oscar winners such as “The King’s Speech,” has been looking for a buyer or financial support after a series of articles alleging sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein were published starting in October and several partners dropped projects with the company. He was dismissed, but his younger brother Bob remains a board member. Harvey Weinstein has denied engaging in non-consensual sex. — BLOOMBERG NEWS