UNITED DRUG ADMITS FAULT FOR DELIVERING $1.4m OF CANCER DRUGS TO EUROPEAN HOTELS - United Drug, the listed pharmaceuticals supplier, admitted yesterday it was at fault for delivering $1.4 million (€1.05 million) of cancer drugs to hotels in Europe which were picked up by a US pharmacy owner’s wife, who illegally imported them back to the US for sale in her husband’s store. Robin Simon, whose husband owns a chemist shop in Pittsburgh, pleaded guilty in the US last week to illegally importing the cancer drug Xeloda scores of times between 2000 and 2007, writes the Irish Times. Xeloda was for sale in Europe for roughly a third of its US price, and her husband could sell the drug at his pharmacy for a huge mark-up. The court heard Ms Simon would travel to Europe “five or six times” a year, and stay at hotels to wait for United Drug’s wholesaling unit to deliver her a consignment. On one occasion, in Lisbon in 2007, a hotel maid found discarded drug packaging and called police. Portuguese police launched an investigation, followed by the US Food and Drug Administration and the Irish Medicines Board, which contacted United Drug. Ms Simon’s husband has not been charged. United Drug yesterday told The Irish Times the transactions “should not have happened” and it co-operated with the IMB and FDA.
XTRA-VISION TO TRIAL KIOSKS FOR RENTING MOVIES AND GAMES -Xtra-Vision vending machines for renting movies and games are likely to be rolled out within the next two months. UK turnaround specialist Hilco, which bought the rental chain after it went into receivership earlier this year, is to trial 20 machines to gauge the market, says the Irish Independent. The company is in negotiations with supermarket chains to roll out the venture within the next six to eight weeks. Hilco said the move, along with the possibility of a video-on-demand service, would, if successful, future-proof the business and secure jobs. The company, headed up by Belfast man Paul McGowan, bought 89 Xtra Vision stores in June, throwing a lifeline to the company's 800 staff here. Mr McGowan told the Independent that the vending machine concept is the logical next step for the rental market. "As the rental market gets smaller, you're still paying the rent and you're still paying everything else, so the logical next move is to find a different way of doing it," he said. We'll look at finding new places around the country where we're not represented." Founded in 1979 by Richard Murphy, Xtra Vision is one of the best-known brands in the country.
PJ MARA: BANKING INQUIRY WOULD ABSOLVE FIANNA FÁIL OF BLAME - A banking inquiry would absolve Fianna Fáil of the blame for the financial crash and boost the party’s image ahead of elections, according to former government spin doctor PJ Mara. Mr Mara said Fianna Fáil could be the biggest party at the next general election and could actually benefit from a judicial-led inquiry into the financial meltdown. Former taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen should reveal all, he added. In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Mr Mara also criticised Government proposals to regulate the lobbying of politicians, saying the plans are “bullshit” and “heavy-handed”. The former government press secretary spoke candidly about how, as a lobbyist, he accessed key officials and ministers after he stopped working for Fianna Fáil. “What Fianna Fáil should do now is get up on their legs and demand a whole proper inquiry into the financial meltdown,” he said. “All the members of the previous government who were involved should have to attend and give evidence. There should be a judge for that thing. It shouldn’t be some mickey mouse parliamentary thing. A bunch of jokers from the committees; it will be very political. “Let all the guys come in, let the chips fall where they may.”
GOLDMAN PUTS FOUR ON LEAVE AFTER GLITCH - Goldman Sachs has put four senior technology specialists on leave after an embarrassing trading glitch that is likely to cost the bank tens of millions of dollars, reports the Financial Times. The decision to place the employees on administrative leave was made following last Tuesday’s trading error, according to a person familiar with the events. A Goldman spokesman declined to comment on internal personnel matters at the bank. Goldman last week accidentally sent thousands of orders for options contracts to exchanges operated by NYSE Euronext, Nasdaq OMX and the CBOE, after a systems upgrade that went awry. The faulty orders roiled options markets in the opening 17 minutes of the day’s trading and sparked reviews of the transactions. The bank’s trading malfunction was the latest in a string of technology failures on Wall Street and came just two days before Nasdaq, the second-biggest stock exchange in the US, experienced an unprecedented three-hour outage. Goldman has not disclosed how much money it lost in Tuesday’s incident but the trading error probably cost it less than the $100m initially estimated by some market participants, after exchanges opted to void many of the transactions.