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Business news in brief

In the Region

Alba to work on gastrointestinal drug with Shire

Alba Therapeutics Corp. announced a development collaboration yesterday with Shire P.L.C. worth more than $325 million to develop a drug for gastrointestinal disorders. Britain-based Shire, with U.S. headquarters in Tredyffrin Township, Chester County, will pay Alba an initial $25 million to develop drug candidate AT-1001. Alba, Baltimore, will get additional payments when certain clinical, regulatory and commercialization milestones are reached. Shire will get commercialization rights to AT-1001 outside the United States and Japan. Alba will retain rights to sell the drug in the United States and Japan. Shares of Shire closed yesterday up 97 cents, or 1.45 percent, at $67.98 on the Nasdaq.

- Linda Loyd

DEA halts drug deliveries from S. Jersey center

Cardinal Health Inc., Dublin, Ohio, said federal officials suspended drug deliveries from a South Jersey center serving pharmacies that may be filling fake prescriptions for a widely abused painkiller. The Drug Enforcement Administration suspended Cardinal's license to distribute controlled substances from the Swedesboro center, according to Jim Mazzola, a company spokesman. It was the third suspension recently for a Cardinal facility. Its Lakeland, Fla., site was shut this week, and the company's Auburn, Wash., site received a similar order Nov. 29. The three suspensions are focused on the opiate pain reliever hydrocodone.

- Bloomberg News

Wyeth gets warning on 'misleading' Effexor ad

Wyeth, which has major operations in the Philadelphia area, was warned by federal regulators for running a "misleading" ad for Effexor XR, which treats depression. The ad in a professional journal overstates the drug's effectiveness and "minimizes the risks associated" with its use, the Food and Drug Administration said in a letter to the drugmaker posted yesterday on the agency's Web site. The Madison, N.J., company confirmed it received the letter, and will respond in writing by Dec. 21 as required by the regulator, spokeswoman Gwen Fisher said.

- Bloomberg News

N.J. passes Safe Patient Handling Act

Both houses of the New Jersey Legislature this week passed the Safe Patient Handling Act, a bill meant to reduce injuries to hospital and nursing-home employees and patients. The bill requires the health-care facilities to develop plans over several years to minimize manual lifting by employees. Various devices can make it easier for nurses and other workers to move patients. The bill, which was passed by the Senate Monday and the Assembly Thursday night, has been sent to Gov. Corzine for approval.

- Stacey Burling

Pepco to build electric plant in Peach Bottom

Pepco Holdings Inc., Washington, will build a $470 million electric generating plant in Peach Bottom, Pa., the company said. The Lancaster County plant will be called the Delta Power Project and will be completed by June 2011. It will be operated by Conectiv Energy, Pepco's electric power subsidiary. Conectiv provides electric and natural-gas service in parts of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia through its Atlantic City Electric, Delmarva Power and Pepco operating units.

- Paul Schweizer

Exelon to put in-house guards at nuclear plants

Exelon Corp., the parent company of Peco Energy, said it would replace Wackenhut Corp. with an in-house security force at its 10 nuclear power plants after the discovery this year that guards at a Pennsylvania plant were sleeping on the job. The announcement came 21/2 months after Exelon terminated its contract with Wackenhut at the Peach Bottom nuclear power plant. Security officers had been videotaped nodding off or dozing. Wackenhut officials have characterized the apparent lapses at Peach Bottom as "an anomaly."

- AP

Feds start new security program at Phila. port

Longshoremen, truckers and others who work at the Port of Philadelphia began enrolling this week in the Department of Homeland Security Transportation Worker Identification Credential program. After a background investigation, identification cards will be issued. When enrollment is complete, the cards will be required for access to maritime terminals. The enrollment center is 3460 N. Delaware Ave., Room 307. Information about the process, which can be started online, is available at



- Henry J. Holcomb

Ritchie Capital Management sues Coventry First

Ritchie Capital Management Ltd. sued Coventry First L.L.C., Fort Washington, for information on the holders of about $700 million in securitized life insurance policies Ritchie plans to sell as part of its bankruptcy proceedings. Ritchie's two bankrupt life-insurance funds filed an adversary case against Coventry in New York federal court, seeking "life settlement files" related to policies Coventry sold it. The funds, in Chapter 11 bankruptcy since June, are trying to liquidate. Coventry has said transfer of the settlement files wasn't included as a term of its sale agreement with Ritchie.

- Bloomberg News

Christiana stockholders okay sale to National Penn

National Penn Bancshares Inc. and Christiana Bank & Trust Co. said that Christiana's stockholders approved the company's acquisition by National Penn for about $56.5 million. Christiana, Greenville, Del., will retain its name, and operate as a National Penn subsidiary. The deal, approved by federal and Delaware regulators, is expected to be completed on Jan. 4.

- Paul Schweizer

Ametek of Paoli buys California Instruments Corp.

Electronic-instrument-maker Ametek Inc., Paoli, said it bought California Instruments Corp., a privately held company with annual sales of $22 million. The purchase price was not disclosed. California Instruments, San Diego, makes programmable power sources for testing electronics. California Instruments will become part of Ametek's Electronic Instruments Group, which sells instruments to the process and analytical, aerospace, power, and industrial markets. Ametek has annual sales of $2 billion.

- Reid Kanaley

Redpoint Bio partners with Coca-Cola Co.

Redpoint Bio Corp., Ewing, said it had signed an agreement with Coca-Cola Co. to use its taste-enhancing and flavor-identification technology in current and future nonalcoholic beverages manufactured by the beverage company. Coca-Cola will pay Redpoint $900,000 a year, with $450,000 to be paid up front. Coca-Cola will also pay Redpoint $200,000 upon reaching a development "milestone," which Redpoint did not disclose.

- Linda Loyd


U.S.-Peru free-trade pact signed

President Bush signed a U.S.-Peru free-trade agreement, paving the way for stronger economic ties with the Andean nation and boosting the administration's efforts to shore up relations with Latin America. Bush said trade is a key driver of economic growth and helps lift people from poverty. He said Peru has one of the fastest-growing economies in the Western Hemisphere, expanding last year by more than 7.5 percent.

- AP