In the Region

Vioxx lawsuit dropped before trial in Philadelphia

A New Jersey woman who claimed Merck & Co. Inc.'s pain reliever Vioxx caused her husband's death dropped her lawsuit against the company five weeks before the case was set to go to trial in Philadelphia. Angela McCool of Marlton dropped the suit with prejudice, meaning the case will not be reopened. McCool had sued in 2005, alleging that Vioxx caused her husband's fatal heart attack. Attorneys for Merck said McCool's husband had a history of heart trouble and had several factors for heart disease, including hypertension and obesity. Merck's headquarters are in Whitehouse Station, N.J.

- Bloomberg News

AstraZeneca to expand Boston-area R&D facility

AstraZeneca P.L.C. said it would spend $100 million to expand its Boston-area research and development facility focused on infectious diseases and cancer. The London-based company's U.S. headquarters near Wilmington employs about 4,500 people in the Philadelphia area. The company opened the R&D center in the Boston suburb of Waltham, Mass., in 2000, and has expanded it steadily since then. AstraZeneca said the expansion would include creation of up to 100 research jobs, in addition to the more than 400 employees already there.

- Thomas Ginsberg

Head of CVS subsidiary to be new PharMerica's CEO

AmerisourceBergen Corp., Valley Forge, and Kindred Healthcare Inc., Louisville, Ky., have announced that Gregory S. Weishar has been named chief executive officer of a company to be formed by the proposed combination of their institutional pharmacy businesses, PharMerica Long-Term Care and Kindred Pharmacy Services. The new company will be called PharMerica Corp., and it will be based in Louisville, with a major customer-support center in Tampa, Fla. Weishar is chief executive officer and president of PharmaCare Management Services Inc., a subsidiary of CVS Corp.

- Thomas J. Brady

Moody's raises rating for Penn's long-term debt

Moody's Investors Service has upgraded the University of Pennsylvania's long-term-debt rating to "Aa2" from "Aa3," and removed it from its watch list for future upgrades, Penn said. The rating outlook affects $558 million in debt. Moody's change reflects Penn's continued growth in financial reserves, enhanced fund-raising, and the strengthened operating performance of the Penn Health System, a unit of the university. The Health System's debt rating was upgraded in November to "A1" from "A2."

-Tom Belden

Liquor-store employees approve four-year contract

Unions representing nearly 2,800 workers at Pennsylvania's state-owned liquor stores overwhelmingly approved a four-year contract that offers pay raises in exchange for higher employee health-insurance contributions, officials said. The three United Food and Commercial Workers locals ratified the agreement in a 1,222-18 vote Sunday in meetings across the state, said Wendell W. Young IV, president of UFCW Local 1776, which represents employees in southeast, northeast and central Pennsylvania.

- AP

East Penn Financial raises payout to 12 cents a share

East Penn Financial Corp. has raised its semiannual dividend by a penny, to 12 cents a share. The dividend is payable Feb. 28 to shareholders of record Feb. 2. The company, based in Emmaus, Pa., began paying a cash dividend in 2001, and it has raised the payout each year. The increase this year amounts to 9.1 percent. The company, with assets of $439 million, is the parent of East Penn Bank, which has nine branches.

- Paul Schweizer

Bala Cynwyd firm gets Gruppo Campari Polish rights

Alcoholic-beverage company Central European Distribution Corp., Bala Cynwyd, said it obtained exclusive rights to import, market and distribute the Gruppo Campari brand in Poland. The new agreement became effective Jan. 1. It allows the company to sell Gruppo Campari products, such as Skyy Vodka Cinzano, Old Smuggler and Glen Grant.

- Madhusmita Bora

Elsewhere

Allegheny Technologies to supply superalloys to GE . . .

Allegheny Technologies Inc., a maker of specialty metals, said an agreement to supply General Electric Co.'s aviation unit with titanium and nickel-based superalloys may generate $2 billion in sales over four years. Allegheny will supply GE Aviation with the metals for use in commercial and military jet engines, the Pittsburgh-based company said.

- Bloomberg News

. . . and Boeing to supply 39 passenger aircraft to GE

Also, Boeing Co., the world's second-largest commercial-airline-maker, said General Electric Co. ordered 39 of its passenger planes in a transaction with a list-price value of $5.34 billion. GE, the world's biggest aircraft lessor, booked the order last year.

- Bloomberg News

Chicago Fed President Moskow to retire Aug. 31

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago President Michael H. Moskow, whose inflation warnings have weakened bonds, confirmed he would retire Aug. 31, leaving a fourth high-level opening at the central bank. Moskow, 69, took office in 1994 and has never dissented on policy. The announcement confirmed a 2002 resolution set by the Fed's board extending his retirement date until this year. A labor economist by training, Moskow began his career teaching at Temple University, Lafayette College and Drexel University.

- Bloomberg News

Delta filing lists creditors' recovery rates

Delta Air Lines Inc.'s unsecured creditors will recover 62 percent to 78 percent of what they are owed, and unsecured creditors of its Comair Inc. commuter unit may be paid in full, the bankrupt carrier said. Delta plans to pay Comair unsecured creditors 76 percent to 100 percent of what they are owed, according to a filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. The recovery rate for Delta's unsecured creditors is a revision from its earlier estimate of 63 percent to 80 percent.

- Bloomberg News

Codefendant: Ill treatment led to plan to steal secrets

A former secretary at Coca-Cola Co. was angry at her employer for not treating her well. Because of that, she hatched a plan to steal trade secrets from the beverage giant and sell them to rival PepsiCo Inc., a codefendant testified at the woman's conspiracy trial in Atlanta. Edmund Duhaney, who pleaded guilty in the case and agreed to testify, told jurors that Joya Williams said the documents and product samples - which include information about the company's new coffee-infused drink Coca-Cola Blak - could be worth a lot of money to a competitor.

- AP

Rates rise at auctions of 3- and 6-month bills

The Treasury Department auctioned $17 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 4.995 percent, up from 4.975 percent last week. An additional $14 billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 4.965 percent, up from 4.950 percent. The three-month rate was the highest since these bills averaged 5.090 percent on Jan. 22, 2001. The discount rates reflect that the bills sell for less than face value. For a $10,000 bill, the three-month price was $9,873.74, while a six-month bill sold for $9,748.99.

- AP

Higher rate for 1-year T-bills, used to change ARMs

The average yield in the secondary market for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, rose to 5.08 percent last week from 5.03 percent, the Federal Reserve said.

- AP