In the span of 16 hours, two giant biotech developments

Around 3 p.m. on Monday, the Food and Drug Administration announced it had approved a new combination drug by Boston-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals to treat cystic fibrosis — five months sooner than expected. Then at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Biogen said it would revive a medicine for early Alzheimer’s disease that it scrapped as a failure in March.

This Sept. 25, 2019, photo shows a sign indicating a new selling price for a house sits atop a realtor's sign in Jackson, Miss. On Tuesday, Oct. 22, the National Association of Realtors reports on sales of existing homes in September. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Stability seen weaving its way back into housing market

An unusual thing is creeping into Greater Boston’s housing market this fall: Choice.

Governor Charlie Baker defended his new health care bill Tuesday, while some in the health care industry began raising concerns about parts of his wide-ranging proposal.

Baker defends health care plan as concerns arise

Community hospitals, which have long argued that they lack the clout to demand higher reimbursements from insurers, say the proposal falls short.

SALISBURY, MA - OCTOBER 22, 2019: Michael McCormack poses for a portrait at Salisbury Beach in Salisbury, MA on October 22, 2019. McCormack was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer's disease almost five years ago, at age 54. He is a dedicated volunteer for the Alzheimer's Association MA/NH Chapter, and serves on the Board of Directors. Michael said he walks about 4.5 miles a day. He said he texts his wife before he leaves and when he returns, plus he can always see their condominium during his loop. (Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff) section: Metro reporter:

For patients, Biogen news is an infusion of hope on Alzheimer’s

Biogen, the Cambridge biotech company, said its Alzheimer’s drug showed signs of helping patients, a sudden ray of hope in the battle against a devastating illness. “This is very exciting for people like myself living with the disease,” said Michael McCormack, who was diagnosed five years ago.

Latest Business headlines

Founder’s hobby pays off in delicious global dividends

When Bob Rook left the music business to focus on ice cream full-time in the mid-1990s, his goal was nothing less ambitious than to turn Emack & Bolio’s into a global brand.

WeWork Accepts SoftBank Takeover Offer

WeWork, the troubled shared office space company, has agreed to be taken over by its largest outside investor, SoftBank, the Japanese technology giant, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Talking Points

Mastercard rings up purchase of Boston tech firm

Some business tidbits you may have missed.

Chesto Menas Business | Jon Chesto

Momentum is building for bill that would allow surcharge on hotel taxes for tourism efforts

The bill would allow regional tourism districts to impose new room assessments of up to 3 percent.

Business agenda

A public speaking workshop, a tech industry mixer, and other events and things to know.


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// Developing new antibiotics requires new incentives, experts say

The private sector is unwilling to take on the financial risk, experts say, despite desperate need.

More Business headlines

WeWork has agreed to be taken over by its largest outside investor, SoftBank, in a deal that provides a lifeline for the troubled shared office space company after it pulled its initial public offering and removed its chief executive.

WeWork, rejected by Wall Street, accepts lifeline from SoftBank

WeWork has agreed to be taken over by its largest outside investor, SoftBank, in a deal that provides a lifeline for the troubled shared office space company after it pulled its initial public offering and removed its chief executive.

Stock indexes close lower on mixed company earnings

A late-afternoon burst of selling erased modest gains for the market, which was coming off two weeks of gains.

A Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter made a water drop as flames from a wildfire threatened homes on a ridgeline in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles Monday.

PG&E warns it could cut power to California users again

Bill Johnson, Pacific Gas & Electric’s chief executive officer, said during a news conference that the severe weather approaching Northern California raised the possibility that the utility would have to cut power again.

The building at 1 Milk Street in Downtown Crossing is leased by WeWork.

SoftBank to take control of WeWork, report says

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that WeWork is being taken over by the Japanese tech conglomerate that invested billions in the company before its botched effort to go public.

In shocking reversal, Biogen to submit experimental Alzheimer’s drug for approval

The Cambridge biotech plans to resurrect an Alzheimer’s drug that the company previously said had failed, asking the Food and Drug Administration to approve it.

Showcase Cinemas is in the process of revamping more than two-thirds of its 27 US locations to make the moviegoing experience more compelling to consumers.

Chesto Means Business

Showcase Cinemas experiment backs up claim that the cinema is more exciting than the couch

National Amusements Inc. takes all the usual approaches to promoting its cinemas: billboards, radio, social media. Now, add a new component to that marketing plan: science experiments.

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship, shown in computerized imagery, is being built at a Polish shipyard.

Will this robotic Mayflower make history, too?

The Mayflower Autonomous Ship will sail from England to the United States on its own to mark the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ voyage, gathering scientific data along the way.

Business agenda

A social mixer, a storytelling workshop, and other events and things to know

Boston, MA 11/20/2015 Ð The Vertex (Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.) building at 50 Northern Ave in Boston, MA on November 20, 2015. (Globe staff photo / Craig F. Walker) section: Business reporter: Chesto Vertex

Vertex cystic fibrosis drug gets FDA approval ahead of schedule

Vertex Pharmaceuticals won approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for a new three-drug combination that could help 90 percent of patients with cystic fibrosis.

Tom Brady, in a scene from the Netflix series


Tom Brady and Bob Kraft get the last laugh with quarterback’s cameo in Netflix series

The quarterback’s cameo was no dig. It was an act of solidarity that reduced Patriots owner Bob Kraft’s alleged prostitution charges to a punch line in a TV show.

Summit county executive Ilene Shapiro, center, spoke to the media outside the Federal Courthouse in Cleveland Monday. The nation's three dominant drug distributors and a big drugmaker reached a $260 million deal to settle a lawsuit related to the opioid crisis just as the first federal trial over the crisis was due to begin.

$260 million opioid settlement reached at last minute with big drug companies

The three major drug distributors and an opioid manufacturer have reached a $260 million settlement with two Ohio counties to avoid the landmark first federal opioid trial that was set to begin Monday.

US stocks close broadly higher, led by tech companies and banks

The rally came as investors found fresh reason for optimism as the United States and China continue negotiations to resolve their costly trade war.

Facial-recognition software from Amazon mistakenly identified Duron Harmon and 26 other prominent New England athletes as possible outlaws, the Massachusetts chapter of the ACLU says.

Mistaken ID: Facial-recognition tool falsely matches famous athletes to police mugshots

Facial-recognition software from mistakenly identified Duron Harmon and 26 other prominent New England athletes as possible outlaws in an ACLU test.

Casebia, a Cambridge biotech, will no longer be an independent company

Less than four years after it was founded by the German drug and chemical giant Bayer and a Swiss gene-editing company, Casebia plans to close as an independent entity.

Dunkin’ is bringing its Beyond Meat sausage sandwich to Mass. 

Dunkin’ accelerated the wider launch after New York sales were more than double what it had forecast, with the plant-based sandwich becoming the No. 2 selling sandwich in Manhattan.

Partners HealthCare allocates $80m for research toward new treatments

The funding is also aimed at boosting startups working on artificial intelligence programs for health care.

Attorney Joe Rice spoke to the media outside federal court in Cleveland Monday.

Companies reach $260 million deal to settle opioids lawsuit

The nation’s three dominant drug distributors and a big drugmaker have reached a deal to settle a lawsuit related to the opioid crisis just as the first federal trial over the crisis was due to begin Monday.

Dr. Jeffrey Lee and son Eathan looked forward to a lush, green backyard at their new home but found that rock was getting in the way.

Sean P. Murphy | The Fine Print

A rocky lawn crushes dreams of a perfect backyard

Jeffrey Lee purchased a big new house in Dorchester with visions of lazy summer days spent frolicking on a grassy lawn with his toddler. But there was practically no grass.

A picket sign sits against a fence in front of the General Motors Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant in Detroit, Oct. 17, 2019. The tentative contract that GM has worked out with the UAW union is going to raise the automaker’s cost of labor and require a significant cash outlay, but GM will have the ability to close three plants economically. Now the union is likely to try to win similar monetary gains from Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler. (Brittany Greeson/The New York Times)

Tentative union deal could raise GM’s labor costs $100m a year; will other automakers go along?

GM won something it had rarely attained in the past, outside of bankruptcy: the ability to close three plants.

Mendoza Ventures, one of the venture capital firms that calls Newbury Street home, occupies space in the building at the corner of Newbury and Massachusetts Avenue.

Scott Kirsner | Innovation Economy

For venture capitalists, Newbury Street is in fashion

Boston’s fashion capital has become the latest hot spot for the region’s influential venture capital industry.


When a pension plan fails, it hurts us all

A hospital pension failed, leaving hundreds of workers without their retirement safety net. Here’s why you should care about their plight.

“I think there’s going to be a bloodbath if the rates reset to the higher level,” said Dave Willis, cofounder of Bully Boy Distillers in Roxbury. “For the smaller guys it will be a horrifying wake-up call.”

Spiked punch: Tax hikes and tariffs will make holiday parties more expensive

The new charges have local business owners on edge as they prepare for one of their busiest times of the year.

A view of Parcel P-3 in Roxbury.

chesto means business

City looks to restart search to develop long-vacant Roxbury site

The team behind the 1.7-million-square-foot proposal dubbed Tremont Crossing lost $30 million in predevelopment financing about two weeks ago, Director Brian Golden of the Boston Planning & Development Agency says, and the group could not point to another source of funds.

A rendering of a possible look for the redevelopment.

Suits over waterfront zoning can go to trial, judge says

The new zoning would enable developer Don Chiofaro to build a massive waterfront tower along the edge of Boston Harbor.

This is the first time Johnson & Johnson has ever pulled baby powder from the market over asbestos concerns, a spokesman for the company said.

Johnson & Johnson recalls asbestos-tainted baby powder

Johnson & Johnson is recalling a shipment of baby powder after the Food and Drug Administration discovered evidence of asbestos in one of the bottles, the company said Friday, a move that undercuts its defense in a growing number of claims that its talc-based products were contaminated with the potent carcinogen.

The 737 Max was grounded after crashing twice. Above, 737 MAX aircraft are parked on a runway in California.

Boeing pilot complained of ‘egregious’ issue with 737 Max in 2016

A Boeing pilot working on the 737 Max said in messages from 2016 that a new automated system was making the plane difficult to control in flight simulators, more than two years before it was grounded after two deadly crashes.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max aircraft parked on a tarmac in Victorville, Calif., after being grounded.

FAA confronts Boeing over undisclosed 737 Max internal safety communication

A pilot at Boeing had expressed concern three years ago over the flight control system that has been implicated in two fatal crashes, but the company waited months to disclose them.

A laptop displayed a message after being infected by a ransomware attack.

Mass. lawmakers call for US crackdown on ransomware attacks

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, along with eight of the state’s representatives, asked Homeland Security for more help with a problem that has affected communities across the state.

Honey Dew Donuts founder and CEO Dick Bowen (inset) says the company is doing its part for the environment by swapping out foam cups (above left) for paper (right). The new cup is not readily recyclable, however.

Shirley Leung

Honey Dew, Dunkin’ toss out Styrofoam cups, but is it enough to save the planet?

This month Honey Dew will make the switch to double-walled paper cups at all of its locations. Dunkin’ is on track to eliminate the foam cup in New England by year’s end.

The headquarters of Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, N.J.

J&J agrees to $117m settlement over pelvic mesh devices

The pact would resolve allegations Johnson & Johnson deceptively marketed its pelvic mesh products, which support women’s sagging pelvic organs.

A member of the union carried a copy of the contract settlement agreement outside of the UAW GM Council Meeting Thursday in Detroit.

GM Deal Saves One Plant, Union Says, but 3 Others Stay Shut

DETROIT — General Motors has agreed to continue production at a Detroit plant it had planned to shut down, but will not resume operations at three others recently idled, the United Automobile Workers union said Thursday in announcing the terms of a tentative contract agreement.

Necco stopped production at its Revere plant in 2018.


Revere gets its Amazon after all

After failing in the HQ2 sweepstakes, Revere will host a giant Amazon facility at the former Necco candy factory.

Weekend agenda

A brunch benefiting cancer research, a career fair for students interested in conservation, and other events and things to know.

Juul products were displayed at a smoke shop in New York.

As concern grows about teen vaping, Juul suspends online sales of flavored e-cigarettes

Juul Labs is facing multiple federal and state investigations into its marketing practices as outrage mounts over the soaring rate of teenage vaping.

Boston Global Investors and CIM Group received approval to build a 310-foot condo tower atop the Motor Mart Garage in Back Bay.

The Motor Mart Garage will get a glassy new tower on top

The BPDA board blessed plans for a 310-foot building atop the garage on Stuart Street, next to the Park Plaza Hotel.

John Hancock proposed building an office tower (rendering above) on Stuart Street.

John Hancock pulls out of building new Back Bay tower

The insurance giant will sell off the land and development rights for the Stuart Street property.

After some wobbling, stocks close higher on solid earnings

A breakthrough in negotiations over Britain’s exit from the European Union also helped put traders in a buying mood.

Lisa Goldblatt Grace of My Life My Choice, an organization that fights sex trafficking and mentors young people to nudge them away from sexual exploitation.


A ‘Boss Lady’ and a new approach to fighting sex trafficking

The organization My Life My Choice sees the world from the perspective of survivors as it fights the commercial sexual exploitation of children. And its employees believe that the best way to promote understanding is by amplifying the real voices of real people.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg spoke Thursday at Georgetown University.

Mark Zuckerberg defends allowing politicians to lie in ads

Zuckerberg defended the policy that allows politicians to peddle ads containing misrepresentations and lies on Facebook.

Years after Massachusetts health insurers launched websites to help consumers make sense of medical costs, the tools are seldom used and are failing to contain health spending as hoped, according to a new report from Attorney General Maura Healey’s office.

AG says price transparency isn’t helping consumers save on health care costs

The analysis injects fresh skepticism into the popular theory that giving consumers more information about the cost of medical services will compel them to choose lower-cost health care providers.

FILE -- McKesson Corporation's headquarters in San Francisco, April 5, 2019. The nation’s three largest drug distributors, including McKesson, as well as two manufacturers, are in negotiations to settle thousands of cases before a trial set to begin on Monday, Oct. 21. (Anastasiia Sapon/The New York Times)

Opioid settlement talks broaden ahead of 1st federal trial

Efforts to settle thousands of lawsuits related to the nation’s opioid epidemic were intensifying Wednesday, just days ahead of the scheduled start of arguments in the first federal trial over the crisis.

Innovation Economy by Scott Kirsner


Kirsner’s Innovation Economy column appears in the Boston Sunday Globe, and he contributes to the Globe’s Beta Boston website.