Business Briefs – April 21, 2016

Breakthrough Cholesterol Drugs Fizzle Amid Price Pushback

WASHINGTON (AP) – New cholesterol-lowering drugs that first hit the market last summer promised to reduce artery-clogging cholesterol by nearly twice as much as older ones. But they came at an eye-popping price: more than $14,000 per year, compared with roughly $150 for the standard drugs.

Some experts predicted a doomsday scenario in which the two injectable drugs, Repatha and Praluent, would add a staggering $100 billion to the U.S. drug bill as doctors signed up millions of patients with elevated cholesterol. But then something unexpected happened: not much.

The drugs have barely sold. Sanofi reported a meager $10 million from Praluent in the last quarter, which it co-markets with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Amgen Inc. declined to break out Repatha sales.

Source: VW, Gov’t Ink Deal to Pay Owners of Cheating Diesels

DETROIT (AP) – Volkswagen, the U.S. government and private lawyers have reached a deal for the automaker to spend just over $1 billion to compensate owners of about 600,000 diesel-powered cars that cheat on emissions tests, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The final details are still being worked out, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the deal hasn’t been made public.

Missing Ingredient for Millennials: Down Payment Savings

WASHINGTON (AP) – Short of savings and burdened by debt, America’s millennials are struggling to afford their first homes in the face of sharply higher prices in many cities.

Nationally, 37 percent of millennial renters have saved nothing at all for a down payment, according to a survey of renters that was released Wednesday by Apartment List. At the same time, 79 percent of millennial renters say they aspire to own a home, illustrating a troublesome gap between expectations and financial realities.

Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors Finds Falsified Fuel Mileage Tests

TOKYO (AP) – Mitsubishi Motors Corp., the Japanese automaker tarnished by a massive recall cover-up 15 years ago, owned up to another scandal Wednesday, saying employees had intentionally falsified fuel mileage data for several vehicle models.

The inaccurate tests by the Tokyo-based automaker involved 157,000 of its own-brand eK wagon and eK Space light passenger cars, and 468,000 Dayz and Dayz Roox vehicles produced for Nissan Motor Co.

The models are all so-called “minicars” with tiny engines whose main attraction is generally great mileage. They were produced from March 2013.

American Express’ Earnings Fall, But Still Beat Estimates

NEW YORK (AP) – American Express’s first-quarter profits declined 8 percent from a year earlier, as the company continues to spend heavily to retain customers being lured away by aggressive competitors.

However the company’s results beat analysts’ expectations and it saw both more card spending and more account openings in the quarter, which helped push AmEx’s shares higher in post-market trading.

The credit card company said Wednesday it earned a profit of $1.39 billion, or $1.45 a share, in the first quarter, after payments to preferred shareholders.

Yum Beats 1Q Profit Forecasts

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Yum Brands said Wednesday that its profit rose 8 percent in the first quarter as the parent company of KFC and Pizza Hut saw sales improve in the embattled China unit it plans to spin off.

Sales rose 6 percent for established stores, a key industry metric, in China. The China unit has been hit by food scares and marketing missteps in recent years. In October, the company announced plans to spin off the business into a separate publicly traded company by the end of 2016.