Updated Jul. 17, 2014 at 9:19 a.m.

Startup says aloha to name after Hawaii protests; FDA-Pozen update; new Tantalus exec; Apple $400M ebook settlement; Novartis earnings; Visa's new system

Published: 2014-07-17 07:13:00
Updated: 2014-07-17 09:19:49

In today's Bulldog wrapup of life science and technology news:

  • A L.A. company changes its name after protests in Hawaii
  • FDA accepts Pozen application
  • Smart grid firm Tantalus in Raleigh names COO
  • Apple faces $400M ebook settlement
  • Novartis earnings report
  • Visa launches new online payment system

The details:

  • Company Gets New Name After Protests by Hawaiians

HONOLULU — A company aiming to provide easier access to sexually transmitted disease test results and other medical records announced a new name on Wednesday after facing protests by Native Hawaiians for using the word hula.

The Los Angeles-based company will now be called Healthvana Inc., founder and CEO Ramin Bastani said.

The previous name Hula drew complaints that it was culturally insensitive. An online petition asking Bastani to change the name argued that it exploited a sacred cultural dance.

Bastani immediately removed any references to "getting lei'd" in company marketing material but said the Hula name would remain. Then in May, after learning to understand the concerns of the Native Hawaiian community, he announced the name would change.

The new name combines the words health and nirvana while matching the company's goal of enlightened health care, he said.

  • FDA Accepts Pozen New Drug Application

CHAPEL HILL - The FDA on Wednesday accepted Pozen's new drug application after concerns about production problems were addressed.

Pozen's statement:

POZEN Inc. (NASDAQ: POZN), a pharmaceutical company committed to transforming medicine that transforms lives, today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted for review, the resubmission of the New Drug Application (NDA) for PA8140/PA32540. The FDA also indicated the NDA would be treated as a Class 2 resubmission; therefore, the new user fee goal date is December 30, 2014. Issues raised during an audit of the manufacturing facility producing an active ingredient used in the manufacture of the products were the only deficiencies noted in the Complete Response Letter (CRL) POZEN received on April 25, 2014. If such inspection deficiencies are not satisfactorily addressed by the new user fee goal date, the FDA could issue another CRL. POZEN has agreed substantively to FDA’s most recent draft product labeling.

  • Tantalus Names  COO

RALEIGH - Smart grid technology firm Tantalus has a new chief operating officer. He's Dermot O'Leary, a 35-year veteran of the utility industry. 

“Tantalus is strategically positioned for significant growth,” stated Peter Londa, President and CEO for Tantalus. “Dermot is joining the team at a time where thoughtful planning and implementation are necessary to fully leverage the developmental and operational capabilities of our team. His wealth of knowledge and experience in the smart grid industry will serve as an incredible asset to the company while also maximizing value for our shareholders.”

  • Apple May Refund $400M in Digital Book Settlement

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple will refund up to $400 million to consumers ensnared in a plot to raise the prices of digital books unless the company gets a court to overturn a decision affirming its pivotal role in the collusion.

The settlement bill emerged in a Wednesday court filing made a month after attorneys suing Apple notified U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in New York that an agreement had been reached to avoid a trial over the issue.

Lawsuits filed on behalf of digital book buyers had originally been seeking damages of up to $840 million after Cote ruled in a separate trial last year that Apple Inc. had violated U.S. antitrust law by orchestrating a price-fixing scheme with five major publishers of electronic books.

Cote's decision sided with the U.S. Justice Department's contention that Apple's late CEO, Steve Jobs, had schemed with major e-book publishers to charge higher prices in response to steep discounts offered by Amazon.com Inc. Jobs, who died in October 2011, negotiated the deals as Apple was preparing to release the first iPad in 2010.

  • Novartis cites momentum in 3 percent profit rise

GENEVA — Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG posted a 3 percent rise in second-quarter profits Thursday, reflecting what it described as solid growth and an increased focus on core products.

Profits during the April-June quarter rose to $3.28 billion, up from $3.18 billion in the same quarter of 2013, helped by "strong innovation momentum" and rising sales in some of its household brands, the Basel-based company reported.

Earlier this year, the company launched a major overhaul of its business with a series of multibillion-dollar deals with Britain's GlaxoSmithKline PLC and the U.S.'s Eli Lilly & Co., a reflection of the restructuring that's occurring in the fast-changing industry.

Novartis confirmed its outlook for 2014 is for mid-to-high single-digit sales growth, partly due to its confidence from progress and approvals for cancer and heart drugs that are in development.

  • Visa Launches New Service to Pay Online

NEW YORK — Payment processor Visa is launching a new service called Visa Checkout that eliminates a few steps in online payment.

The company and its retailing partners, including Neiman Marcus, Pizza Hut, Staples and others, hope a quicker payout will lead to fewer abandoned shopping carts online. As more customers shop on smaller screens like smartphones and tablets, the hassle of entering in credit card numbers and billing addresses is becoming a sticking point and payment processors have been working to find ways to simplify the process.

Beginning Wednesday, users can sign up with Visa credit and debit cards, as well as other branded cards, and enter their card information just once. Then they will be able pay for things via Visa by only entering their username and password at participating sites. The service is currently being offered in the U.S., Canada and Australia,

Visa Checkout joins similar services like eBay's PayPal, MasterCard's MasterPass, Amazon's one-click checkout and others. It's not Visa's first effort. In 2012, Visa launched a similar V.me service, which Visa Checkout is replacing.


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