Business Briefs – June 26, 2016

U.S. Durable Goods Orders Slid 2.2 Percent in May

WASHINGTON (AP) – Orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting manufactured goods dropped in May, reversing two months of gains and delivering more bad news for American manufacturers.

The Commerce Department said Friday that demand for durable goods slid 2.2 percent last month after rising 3.3 percent in April and 2 percent in March.

Senator Renews Scrutiny of Pharma Ties on Federal Panel

WASHINGTON (AP) – A high-ranking Senate Democrat is pushing for more answers on why doctors and patient advocates with financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry came to serve on a panel that advises the federal government on pain issues.

Sen. Ron Wyden says he is “even more concerned” about these apparent conflicts of interest after receiving a response from the National Institutes of Health, which vetted and selected the panel members.

The panel attracted attention late last year when several members bashed a federal plan to recommend doctors reduce prescribing of painkillers used to treat chronic pain, such as OxyContin and Percocet. The guidelines were ultimately issued in March by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, despite the panel’s objections.

Health Insurer’s Limit on Insulin Pumps Worries Patients

WASHINGTON (AP) – Stephanie Rodenberg-Lewis wasn’t happy with her insulin pump and finally switched two years ago to another brand. Now her health insurer is pushing her to go back.

Health insurers, big employers and other bill payers have been trying for years to rein in costs and improve care by steering clients to certain doctors and hospitals. They’ve also restricted options for some prescriptions and lined up deals for smaller-ticket items like diabetes test strips or items patients don’t chose, like heart stents.

Limiting choice for medical equipment that a patient usually selects is uncharted territory. UnitedHealth rivals Aetna and the Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurer Anthem say they haven’t done this. But experts say it could become more common.

Use of Drones for Disaster Missions Put to the Test

CAPE MAY, N.J. (AP) – How to distribute lifesaving supplies quickly and safely after a natural disaster has long been a puzzle for responders. Now, drones might be the lifesaver.

That idea was put to the test this week in New Jersey as a drone delivery service conducted test flights to help determine whether drones can be used to carry human medical samples to and from areas that cannot be accessed or communicated with during major storms, earthquakes or other disasters.

Experts say drones are becoming a more valuable tool in many humanitarian operations, where the unmanned aircraft can be quickly launched and used to collect data and images and help locate people who might be injured or trapped. But others warn that biological samples can be fragile.

Finance Minister Says India Wants More Manufacturers

BEIJING (AP) – India wants to attract manufacturing investment following its latest market-opening initiatives, the country’s finance minister said Friday, despite business concerns about access to land and other issues.

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has opened more industries to foreign ownership and streamlined official procedures, said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. He was in Beijing for the first meeting of the Chinese-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Changes announced Monday by Modi’s 2½-year-old government included allowing complete foreign ownership of airlines and military industries. They also eased investment in pharmaceuticals, food and retailing.

No TSA PreCheck on Your Boarding Pass? This Might Be Why

NEW YORK (AP) – Thousands of fliers enrolled in trusted traveler programs such as PreCheck aren’t getting the expedited screening they paid for because of clerical errors with their reservations.

The most common problem is that their date of birth or government “known traveler number” has been entered incorrectly into a reservation. Other times, the name on the itinerary doesn’t match the name used to enroll in PreCheck, Global Entry or one of the other government programs. This is particularly a problem when bookings are made through travel agents who might transpose information, airlines say.

There have always been issues matching passenger data, but with recent long lines at TSA checkpoints leading to a spike in PreCheck enrollments, there are now more data problems, too.