Sales of growth hormone by Big Pharma set record

A federal crackdown on illicit foreign supplies of human growth hormone has failed to stop rampant misuse, and instead has driven record sales of the drug by some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, an Associated Press investigation shows.

The crackdown, which began in 2006, reduced the illegal flow of unregulated supplies from China, India and Mexico.

But since then, Big Pharma has been satisfying the needs of U.S. users and abusers, including many who take the drug in the false hope of delaying the effects of aging.

From 2005 to 2011, inflation-adjusted sales of HGH were up 69 percent, according to an AP analysis of pharmaceutical company data collected by the research firm IMS Health. Sales of the average prescription drug rose just 12 percent.

General Electric will buy aviation business of Avio

Industrial conglomerate General Electric plans to buy the aviation business of Italian manufacturer Avio for $4.3 billion to grow its jet propulsion business and strengthen its supply chain.

The Fairfield, Conn., company said Friday that it wants to build its supply chain as it ramps up engine production. The deal also gives GE a chance to offer Avio products outside the aviation industry, in power generation, oil and marine products.

GE will buy Avio S.p.A.’s aviation business from European private equity firm Cinven and the Italian aerospace group Finmeccanica.

Walgreen’s quarterly profit declines almost 26 percent

Walgreen’s fiscal first-quarter earnings sank nearly 26 percent as costs tied to a couple of big deals and Superstorm Sandy helped put a bigger-than-expected dent in the drugstore chain’s performance.

CEO Greg Wasson told analysts he saw the quarter as a “turning point” for the Deerfield, Ill., company, which has been working to recapture customers it lost during a contract dispute with Express Scripts Holding Co. But investors didn’t buy that message, at least initially, as the stock fell deeper than broader market declines in Friday trading.

Walgreen Co. spent $4 billion in cash earlier this year to buy a stake in Alliance Boots, a Swiss company that runs the largest drugstore chain in the United Kingdom. It also spent $438 million on a drugstore chain focused on the mid-South under the USA Drug, Super D Drug and Med-X names.

News Corp. publishing unit posts $2 billion annual loss

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. said Friday that the news and publishing unit it plans to spin off next year posted a $2 billion net loss in the fiscal year through June, mainly due to one-time charges and restructuring costs in its newspaper division.

The details of the split were revealed Friday in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission. It confirmed investors’ suspicions that the spun-off company — to be known as News Corp. — will be smaller and less profitable than the TV and movie unit that will form Fox Group Inc.

The “new” News Corp. posted $8.7 billion in revenue last fiscal year, about a quarter of the company’s total. Charges amounted to $2.8 billion, mainly due to declines in the value of newspapers and a drop in advertising at its in-store flyer business. The charges included restructuring costs of $156 million, most of which came from shutting down The News of the World, the tabloid at the heart of a phone hacking scandal in Britain.

Sunland peanut butter plant resuming operations Dec. 26

A New Mexico peanut butter plant that had its licensed yanked after being linked to a widespread salmonella outbreak reached a deal Friday to resume some operations Dec. 26 under the watchful eye of regulators.

A consent decree filed in federal court said Sunland Inc., the nation’s largest organic peanut butter producer, can reopen if it hires an independent expert to develop a sanitation plan, which then must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

– From news service reports