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Business news in brief

In the Region

Cephalon sues generic-drug-maker over painkiller

Cephalon Inc., Frazer, said it sued Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. to prevent the generic-drug-maker from selling a low-cost copy of the painkiller Fentora. Watson, of Corona, Calif., is seeking Food and Drug Administration approval to sell a generic of the drug, whose chemical name is fentanyl buccal. In its application, Watson challenged two patents owned by Cephalon that expire in 2019. Cephalon said the copy would violate its patents. Fentora, a fast-acting tablet that dissolves in the mouth, is approved to relieve sudden episodes of cancer pain in adults already taking other opioids, or morphinelike drugs. Shares of Cephalon closed down $1.23, or 1.81 percent, at $66.83.

- Bloomberg News

Nurses at Crozer-Chester ratify new contract

By a 501-63 vote, members of the Crozer Chester Nurses Association, a part of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP), voted to ratify a new contract yesterday with Crozer-Chester Medical Center. The hospital's 800 nurses had threatened to strike when the old contract expired at midnight today. The nurses had asked the hospital to commit to specific nurses-to-patient ratios. The hospital did not do that, but did agree to post an additional 35 nursing positions, Bill Cruice, executive director of PASNAP and chief negotiator, said after the vote last night. Nurses will get 4 percent raises during each of the three years in the new contract and will pay no more than 12 percent of the cost of their health insurance premiums. Pay for beginning nurses will rise from $29.56 a hour at the beginning of the contract to $33.25 a hour in the last year, the union said.

- Stacey Burling

US Airways adds flight from Phila. to Sacramento

In time for the summer travel season, US Airways Group Inc. began nonstop daily flights yesterday from Philadelphia to Sacramento, Calif., and from Charlotte, N.C., to California's capital. US Airways also began nonstop service yesterday from Charlotte to Tucson, Ariz. The Philadelphia flight to Sacramento leaves at 5:55 p.m., arriving in Sacramento at 8:54 p.m. The Sacramento flight to Philadelphia departs at 8:30 a.m., arriving here at 4:31 p.m. US Airways, the region's dominant airline, said the transcontinental fights would give travelers new ways to get to popular summer destinations along the East and West Coasts, as well as connecting opportunities to Europe and the Caribbean.

- Linda Loyd

Auxilium's late-stage trials on Xiaflex positive

Auxilium Pharmaceuticals Inc., a specialty-drug-maker in Malvern, said it had positive results from phase 3 clinical trials of its treatment for a disease that causes fingers to contract. Xiaflex is being developed for treatment of Dupuytren's contracture, a progressive disease that affects the connective tissue lying beneath the skin in the palm and causes the fingers to curl. Company vice president William Q. Sargent Jr. said the disease was found most often in Caucasian men of Northern European descent past age 50, but has been found in all races. The company said in a release that it expected to apply early next year to the Food and Drug Administration for a biologics license. Auxilium expects to start phase 2 trials soon on Xiaflex for treatment of Peyronie's disease, characterized by a plaque or hard lump that occurs on the penis. Company shares closed up $1.14, or 3.62 percent, at $32.67.

- Roslyn Rudolph

Internet Capital to get $85 million in Creditex sale

Internet Capital Group Inc., of Wayne, said it would collect about $85 million in gross proceeds from the sale of its stake in Creditex, a New York company that processes credit default swap trades, to the Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange Inc. The Creditex sale is valued at about $625 million, including ICG's stake, and is subject to changes in Intercontinental's share price and a working-capital adjustment at closing. Internet Capital paid $25 million for its Creditex stake three years ago, chief executive officer Walter W. Buckley said at an investor conference last month. Despite the credit crunch that has curbed Wall Street's appetite for complex investments, Buckley said Creditex sales rose sharply last year. Credit default swaps are contracts that allow hedge funds and other investors to bet that a company would fail to pay its bondholders. Internet Capital shares closed up 53 cents, or 5.43 percent, at $10.29.

- Joseph N. DiStefano

85 to lose jobs when Polymer's N.J. plant closes

A factory closing in Atlantic County will put about 85 employees out of work. Polymer Group Inc. says its plant in the Landisville section of Buena Vista Township, N.J., is to close by the end of September. The factory makes products for the hygiene and medical markets. The Charlotte, N.C., company is shutting the plant so that its capabilities are a better match with its long-term direction. Polymer says it will provide the workers with severance pay and displacement assistance. Company vice president Dennis Norman said workers could also apply for openings at its seven other U.S. plants, but none is in New Jersey.

- AP

Publisher of free Metro focuses on consolidating

Metro International S.A., the publisher of free newspapers in 21 countries, including the Metro in Philadelphia, said it would focus on consolidation in Western Europe and North America in coming years and would target growth in Russia, Latin America and Asia. The company is struggling to reach profitability in the United States amid a credit crunch and has eliminated jobs in New York, Philadelphia and Boston to cut costs. Metro is gaining market share as conditions in the U.S. deteriorate, chief executive officer Per Mikael Jensen said. "We'd like to consolidate that market."

- Bloomberg News


Fed lends additional $75 billion to stressed banks

The Federal Reserve has auctioned an additional $75 billion in loans to squeezed banks to help them overcome credit problems. The central bank yesterday announced the results of its most recent auction - the 13th since the program started in December. It is part of an effort to ease financial turmoil and credit stresses. The auction was conducted Monday.

- AP

After ruling, Brazil seeks sanctions on U.S. cotton

A top trade official says that Brazil will seek sanctions against the United States after winning a World Trade Organization ruling on cotton subsidies. The Brazilian Foreign Ministry's trade chief Roberto Azevedo does not say what amount his government will ask for. The United States lost its final appeal Monday in the billion-dollar trade dispute over subsidies to cotton growers.

- AP

HP must pay $184 million to Cornell in patent case

Hewlett-Packard Co. was told by a federal jury to pay $184 million to Cornell University after being accused of infringing a patent for data processing. The jury in Syracuse, N.Y., reached the verdict Friday. Hewlett-Packard's processors used the technology without permission from Cornell or its research foundation, which claim ownership of the patent, the university said in the lawsuit filed in December 2001. "We respect the jury's decision, though we don't agree with it," Hewlett-Packard said in an e-mailed statement. The company did not say whether it would appeal the decision.

- Bloomberg News