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The Cybersecurity Play That Doubled Once – Will Double Again

Not long ago, a relative of mine was the victim of identity theft. And I have to tell you that I really felt for the entire family.

The thief ran up nearly $20,000 in charges, opened new accounts and tried to open others.

And I can tell you that the frustrations over the losses (most of which ended up being covered) were dwarfed by the helplessness that came whenever new charges showed up – and the worry that was spawned by never finding out how the whole mess started.

As we watch the headlines about data breaches and cybercrime – and watch as the violations move closer and closer to home – those worries only escalate.

  • Featured Story

    M&A Frenzy Stays Hot With Pfizer's $3.6 Billion Deal for King Pharmaceuticals

    The frenzy of activity in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) continued yesterday (Tuesday), when Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) agreed to pay $3.6 billion in cash to buy King Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NYSE: KG).

    Pfizer, the world's largest drugmaker, is paying $14.25 per share for King. That's a premium of 40% to the stock's Monday closing price of $10.15. As part of the deal, Pfizer will receive such products as Avinza and EpiPen, a pre-filled injection designed to quickly treat serious allergic reactions.

    King also gives Pfizer access to the Flector pain patch and morphine pill Embeda. Pfizer has been looking to expand its pain products beyond the arthritis treatment Celebrex and nerve pain remedy Lyrica. King had $1.78 billion in revenue last year and is focused on making pain medications that patients can't abuse.

    Pfizer needs new products to help offset revenue losses expected next year when generic copies of its top-selling drug, the Lipitor cholesterol pill, enter the market. Lipitor sales topped $11.4 billion last year.


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  • Drug Companies

  • Congressional Spat Over Doctor's Medicare Pay Threatens Obama's Healthcare Reform Effort A Congressional stalemate over how to stave off a hefty pay cut to doctors treating Medicare patients threatens to undermine President Barack Obama's healthcare reform effort - even as the administration mails out a glossy brochure to reassure seniors the healthcare program is on solid ground.

    For the third time this year, Democrats and Republicans are squabbling over a provision to approve billions of dollars in new spending to avoid a scheduled 21.3% cut in reimbursements to doctors who treat Medicare patients.

    If GOP senators don't allow the stalled proposal to pass, some doctors will stop treating Medicare recipients, Obama said... Read More...
  • Japan's Astellas Pharma Is the Latest Company to Go Global to Dodge Patent Problems Japan's second-largest drug maker Astellas Pharma, Inc. announced yesterday (Sunday) it would buy U.S. biotech OSI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: OSIP) for $4 billion to increase its exposure to the U.S. pharmaceuticals market and build up its struggling pipeline.

    The all-cash bid is Astellas' second for the sought-after OSI after a March 1 $3.5 billion offer was rejected. Astellas will pay $57.50 per OSI share, 11% more than the first offer and 55% more than OSI's last closing price before Astellas starting bidding. OSI closed at $59.80 Friday.

    OSI's money-making cancer drug Tarceva generated $1.2 billion in sales last year and is projected to bring in $7 billion in revenue through 2020. Astellas wants to build a global cancer-drug business and jointly develop more cancer drugs with OSI.

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  • Question of the Week: Do the Pitfalls Outweigh the Promise For the New Healthcare Reform Program? When U.S. President Barack Obama signed the new healthcare-reform bill into law yesterday (Tuesday), it ended months of political bickering and maneuvering, and began a new chapter in the nation's healthcare saga - one in which the country will feel the effects of this sweeping, costly and controversial policy overhaul.

    The fact is that many Americans will have healthcare for the first time ever. Offsetting that bright spot, however, is the reality that the program could add trillions in debt to the country's already burgeoning national debt, further complicating the matter.

    Going forward, it will now be left to the pundits, analysts and the healthcare industry to decipher what these provisions really mean for the industry, for individuals, for taxpayers - and even for investors.

    But here at Money Morning, we wanted to know what you think about this new law. That's why we made healthcare reform the inaugural topic in our new "Question of the Week" feature.

    Money Morning Question of the Week: U.S. President Barack Obama's controversial healthcare proposal is now law. What do you think? How do you feel? Do you think it's a beneficial or harmful move for you as a consumer, as an investor, and as a taxpayer? What do you think it means for our nation's economy?

    What follows is a sampling of the enthusiastic and passionate responses that we received. Make sure to also check out next week's "Question of the Week," a query that seeks your thoughts on the growing levels of U.S. debt.

    Read More...
  • Healthcare Reform Losers: Companies Providing Retiree Benefits Face Multi-Million Dollar Tax Costs After sending letters of protest to Congress in the months prior to the healthcare law's approval, U.S. companies are now facing multi-million dollar after-tax hits this year due to a tax provision in the new legislation, labeling them healthcare reform losers instead of winners.

    Part of the new healthcare law places a federal income tax on government subsidies given to companies that provide retirees and their spouses with drug benefit plans. The 28% subsidy was created as Medicare Part D, adding a prescription plan for senior citizens to the Medicare Act of 2003. To encourage companies to continue offering retirees a drug plan, the tax-free subsidy reduced companies' costs. Fewer senior citizens then went through Medicare's prescription program - which would have cost taxpayers much more than the subsidy price.

    Caterpillar Inc (NYSE: CAT) and Deere & Company (NSYE: DE) are just two of the businesses that fought the new stipulations. The manufacturers estimate the tax will cost them $100 million and $150 million this year, respectively. Other companies who will pay handsomely include AK Steel Corp. (NYSE: AKS) with $31 million in charges, and Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE: HON) with an estimated fee of $42 million.

    Consulting firm Towers Watson & Co. (NYSE: TW) estimates these taxes could cost companies about $233 per person receiving drug benefits - a hefty price tag when a company gives benefits to 40,000 retirees, like Caterpillar.

    Overall, more than 3,500 companies offer drug benefits to 6.3 million retirees. Although the tax won't be effective until 2011, accounting practices force companies to recognize the fees in the period in which the law is signed. That means the tax could nab $14 billion from corporate profits in a year when companies were hoping to recover from huge losses during the recession.

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  • We Want to Hear From You: What Do You Think About the New Healthcare Law? After months of controversy, political bickering and maneuvering, and intense media speculation and scrutiny, this week became a historically significant moment in the annals of U.S. healthcare when U.S. President Barack Obama signed the new healthcare bill into law.

    Thus begins a new chapter in the healthcare saga, when the country will feel the effects of this sweeping, costly and controversial policy overhaul.

    As with any sweeping legislation, the law is facing both fierce support and opposition as the country digests what the provisions mean for individuals, for the healthcare industry, for the government - and for the... Read More...
  • Drug Companies and Hospitals Get a Boost from Healthcare Reform After months of trying to predict how the healthcare reform proposals would affect the respective futures of their industries, drug companies and hospitals are optimistic about the prospective long-term profits the final version of the health care reform bill could bring them.

    President Barack Obama yesterday (Tuesday) signed the $940 billion health care reform bill with support from pharmaceutical companies and the hospital industry. Both will benefit from a sharp increase in the number of insured customers, as the bill expands healthcare to up to 32 million more people.

    While the bill will cost tens of billions of dollars over the next 10 years, the planned reforms create something drug companies and hospitals can't live without: paying consumers.

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  • Teva Pharmaceutical Wins Fight in the Generic Drug Market Battle Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (Nasdaq: TEVA) will buy sought-after German generic producer Ratiopharm for $4.97 billion, continuing a trend of highly competitive merger-and-acquisition (M&A) activity in the pharmaceutical industry.

    Competitors have pursued Ratiopharm for nine months because of its position as the second biggest generic producer in Germany. It was put up for sale in June to help pay off debt amassed by the previous owner's stock market misfortune. Other contenders were rumored to be the Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: Read More...