Business Briefs – January 27, 2016

Federal Pain Panel Rife With Links to Pharma Companies

WASHINGTON (AP) – A federal panel that has recently criticized efforts to cut back on painkiller prescriptions is studded with members who have financial ties to drug companies.

Nearly a third of members on the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee have financial connections to makers of opioid drugs like OxyContin.

The government advisory panel consists of federal scientists, outside academics and patient representatives. Of the 18 committee members at a recent meeting to discuss the government’s handling of pain issues, at least five had drug-industry connections.

U.S. New-Home Sales Soar in December

WASHINGTON (AP) – Americans rushed to buy new homes in December at the strongest pace in 10 months, with 2015 marking the strongest year for this segment of the housing market since 2007.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that new-home sales surged 10.8 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 544,000. It was the third consecutive monthly gain since sales collapsed in September.

Sales of new homes accelerated sharply in 2015, rising 14.5 percent on the entire year to 501,000.

U.N. Chief Wants Clean Energy Investments Doubled by 2020

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. secretary-general on Wednesday challenged investors around the world to at least double their investments in clean energy by 2020, saying that “we must begin the shift away from fossil fuels immediately.”

Ban Ki-moon told an investor summit on climate risk that increasing investment in clean energy is critical in following up on the landmark agreement to tackle climate change reached in Paris last year.

Ban said about $330 billion was invested in clean energy last year, but that is far from what he calls the “clean trillion” needed per year in the decades to come.

Toyota Stays No. 1 Automaker, Sells 10.15M Vehicles in 2015

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it sold 10.151 million vehicles in 2015, retaining its status as the world’s top-selling automaker for the fourth straight year.

The sales figure compared with 2015 sales of 9.93 million vehicles for Volkswagen AG and 9.8 million for General Motors.

Toyota, which makes the Prius hybrid, Camry sedan and Lexus luxury models, has forecast sales at 10.114 million vehicles in 2016. Its actual sales in 2015 beat its forecast for sales of 10.098 million vehicles.