Filed under: Regulations

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Audit shows Medicare violated Viagra ban

Bloomberg News | A U.S. audit shows that Medicare spent some $3 million on Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs in 2007 and 2008. The purchases violate a 2005 ban on covering some drugs for the elderly.

Regulators scrutinizing Sara Lee sell-offs, says EU

From Bloomberg | Sara Lee Corp.’s sale of its insecticide unit to S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. is among the company’s divestments that has required “extra care” from regulators, the European Union’s antitrust chief said Thursday. The bug-killer deal is the latest Sara Lee sell-off to be examined in-depth by the European Commission after the regulator imposed conditions on Unilever’s plan to buy Sara Lee’s shower-gel and European detergents.

Testimony begins on utility rates, smart grid

Springfield – Consumer advocates, environmental groups, utilities, government officials and business leaders laid out their wish lists Tuesday for legislation aimed at modernizing the electrical grid, signaling that a version of the bill with added protections for consumers and businesses could have a future in Springfield.

The testimony at a joint hearing of the House Public Utilities and the Senate Energy committees will ultimately be used to hash out the details of Commonwealth Edison-backed legislation that calls for an overhaul of the regulatory process used to set utility rates. Get the full story »

FINRA looks into muni-bond practices

Municipal bond underwriters are under investigation by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority to see whether firms are funding lavish entertainment for rating agency executives as well as public officials from towns and cities, FINRA Chief Executive Richard Ketchum said Monday.

“We have seen examples of excessive expenses for the entertainment of issuer officials and rating agency officials, which are then charged to the municipalities’ cost of issuance, thereby reimbursing the firm out of bond proceeds,” he said at FINRA’s annual fixed-income conference in New York. Get the full story »

SEC is severely understaffed, report finds

From Bloomberg News | The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is about 400 employees short of what it needs to manage its current workload, according to a four-month internal review mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act.

Senate panel targets railroads’ antitrust exemption

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation Thursday that would strip freight railroads of their antitrust exemptions.

The measure in the Democratic-led Senate was approved 14 to 1, but its future was uncertain in the Republican-led House of Representatives. Get the full story »

SEC backs rule to delay executive bonuses

The Securities and Exchange Commission has taken a step toward curbing risk-taking at big Wall Street firms and reducing the influence of credit-rating agencies, two factors that contributed to the financial crisis. Get the full story »

FDIC’s Bair sees bank structural changes

Large financial institutions may need to make significant and potentially costly structural changes to comply with new U.S. “living will” requirements, bank regulator Sheila Bair said on Monday. Get the full story »

Czar amazed by threats to nascent consumer agency

Elizabeth Warren, the point person creating an agency to protect consumers of financial products, said she was surprised there are  efforts afoot in Congress to kill or disable the agency before it’s born.

Warren, in Chicago for a speech at Northwestern University, told the Tribune in an interview Thursday that it’s crucial the agency is created and that its funding remain independent from the political process. She also held an olive branch to community banks and credit unions wary of more regulation. Get the full story »

FDA questions Sanofi reporting of side effects

U.S. health regulators have warned Sanofi-Aventis SA’s U.S. unit for failing to submit reports of possible serious drug side effects in a timely manner.

In a Jan. 28 letter made public Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration said an early response from the drugmaker and its “promised corrective actions are inadequate to address the deficiencies.” Get the full story »

Brazil wins ruling on U.S. orange juice tariffs

Brazil said on Monday the World Trade Organization had made a final ruling in its favor in a dispute with the United States over anti-dumping measures imposed on its orange juice exports.

The decision by a WTO dispute panel, which Brazil’s foreign ministry said in a statement was a “major victory,” would be the second major trade dispute Brazil has won against the United States after a successful case against U.S. cotton aid last year. Get the full story »

Regulators probe Apple subscription plan

Regulators have begun an inquiry into Apple Inc.’s plans to take a cut of the revenue generated by the sale of online subscriptions through its App Store, according to a person familiar with the plans. Get the full story »

Delta fined $2M for violating disability rules

The U.S. Department of Transportation fined Delta Air Lines Inc. $2 million for violating federal rules on passengers with disabilities, the agency said Thursday.

The fine is the largest imposed against an airline in a case not related to safety. Get the full story »

United returning to normal after grounding 757s

United Airlines operations are returning to normal after the carrier voluntarily grounded its fleet of 96 Boeing 757s Tuesday to ensure the planes’ air-data computer software complied with a Federal Aviation Administration airworthiness directive.

The Chicago-based carrier was able to quickly carry out the software checks needed to meet federal guidelines, and most of the aircraft were back in service by mid-day Wednesday. Get the full story »

Regulator: Swap trading venues may miss deadline

Swaps trading venues, a centerpiece of legislation overhauling derivatives, may need to be phased in later than planned because many will miss an October 15 deadline for meeting self-policing requirements, a Chicago-based regulator said.

The potential delay, flagged late Tuesday by National Futures Association President Daniel Roth in comments to a group of Chicago trading executives, represents a potential new setback as regulators rush to write rules for the sweeping Wall Street reform, known as the Dodd-Frank act, that was passed last summer. Get the full story »