FDA OKs tablet to reduce allergies
WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. (AP) - Merck & Co. says the Food and Drug Administration has approved its new tablet for grass allergies, Grastek, for patients five to 65 years old.
Meant as an alternative to weekly allergy shots, the tablet dissolves under the tongue. Taken daily for a few years, it gradually reduces sensitivity to common grasses, instead of temporarily relieving symptoms including sneezing, runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes.
Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., will market the tablet in North America. Its partner, ALK-Abello, sells it in Europe as Grazas.
Merck said Grastek will be available in U.S. pharmacies in late April. However, it's best to start taking it three months before grass pollen season begins.
The drug can cause severe allergic reactions and shouldn't be used by patients with severe asthma.
Dish to refund $2M in settlement
SEATTLE (AP) - The state attorney general's office says Dish Network Corp. will reimburse Washington state customers about $2 million for what it calls a deceptive surcharge.
Under the agreement announced Tuesday, the Colorado-based satellite TV company will also give existing customers cash credits or free programming and pay the state nearly $570,000.
DISH didn't immediately return an email or phone message seeking comment.
The TV provider charged its Washington customers a dollar fee between May and December 2012. The item was listed on bills as a "Washington surcharge" and not advertised in the total cost of TV packages.
The attorney general's office says DISH didn't accurately advertise true sales prices because it listed the surcharge separately. The fee aimed to recoup the company's increased tax liability.
Judge won't stop new Vidalia onion rule
REIDSVILLE, Ga. (AP) - A Georgia judge says he won't stop the state agriculture commissioner from enforcing a new regulation aimed at stopping unripe Vidalia onions from reaching store shelves.
Superior Court Judge Jay Stewart ruled Tuesday against one of Georgia's most prominent Vidalia onion growers, who argued Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black should be stopped from enforcing the new rule because an Atlanta judge struck it down last month. Black says the regulation is still in effect while state attorneys file an appeal.
Farmer Delbert Bland said he still plans to ship onions Wednesday despite the rule, which says no Vidalia onions can be packed for shipping before the last full week of April. Other farmers support the regulation as a means of protecting the reputation and quality of Vidalia onions.
Union fights push to hire tax collectors
WASHINGTON (AP) - A public employees union is fighting a bipartisan effort in Congress to force the Internal Revenue Service to hire private contractors to collect some delinquent taxes.
The IRS stopped using private tax collectors in 2009 after determining that agency employees could do a better job.
The Senate Finance Committee passed a bill two weeks ago that included an amendment requiring the IRS to revive the program. The amendment was offered by Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.
It was accepted without opposition.