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KSBR News Briefs on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017


Drug companies sue to block California drug price law

Pharmaceutical companies have sued to block a new California law that would require them to give advance notice before big price increases.

The law was approved this year in response to consumer outrage over a rise in drug spending and high costs for some prescription treatments, including new Hepatitis C medications and EpiPens to control allergic reactions.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, which is a trade group for drugmakers, said in its lawsuit that California's law illegally tries to dictate national health policy. Because the law is tied to a national measure of drug prices, PhRMA argues that California's advance notification requirement could restrict drugmakers' ability to raise prices in other states.

The group also argued the law is unconstitutionally vague and violates the First Amendment by forcing drug companies to justify price increases.

The law, set to take effect Jan. 1, passed over fierce objections from PhRMA and California's thriving medical research industry. It requires 60 days' notice to raise national wholesale prices above a certain threshold.


Capistrano Unified School District

There will be no change in leadership on the Capistrano Unified School District board.

District Public Information Officer Ryan Burris says the board decided to maintain consistency for next year, during its annual reorganization. The top three positions will continue with President Martha McNicholas, Vice President Gila Jones and Clerk Patricia Holloway.

He says in other business, the board approved having solar panels installed at the district’s headquarters and at its six high schools.

He says high school students have been working for three years with the staff to get it approved. Federal funds will be used to pay for the solar panels.

A solar feasibility study indicates the net project cash flow benefit for the district will be between 100-thousand to 200-thousand dollars a year, for a total of nearly four million dollars over 25 years.

He says the savings will be reinvested back to the schools.


In hospitality industry, sexual misconduct often part of job

Allegations of sexual misconduct against famous figures and politicians are getting all the headlines but in restaurants, bars and hotels across the country, women are routinely subjected to the same kind of abuse.

Attorneys, experts and the workers themselves say that verbal and physical sexual abuse is widespread in the hospitality industry. They say women who speak up often have their pleas ignored or they face retaliation from bosses who want them to quit.

Some efforts are being made to improve the working conditions. In Chicago, for example, the City Council passed an ordinance requiring hotels to develop anti-harassment policies and to provide panic buttons to workers if they work alone in guest rooms.


Spotify and Tencent Team Up

Two music streaming services are hoping they can harmonize on a deal that sees them take minority stakes in each other. The Swedish streaming service Spotify is teaming up with Chinese internet company Tencent. The companies hope the deal will strengthen ties between two of the most popular music streaming services in the world — and in turn, see both firms benefit from the global growth of music streaming.


Surfrider Foundation

The Surfrider Foundation is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s ocean, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network. Its focus is on beach access, clean water and ocean protection. Executive Committee Member Enich Harris says one of the Foundation’s programs is encouraging restaurants to reduce the use of plastic products. No Styrofoam for take-out food. Make sure customers are requesting plastic products instead of always offering it.

He says statistics show 50 million plastic straws are used a day in the U.S. And by 2050, is estimated there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

He, along with Foundation South Orange County Chairman Rick Erkeneff are the guests on our public affairs show “Collage,” which airs this evening at seven. It can also be heard anytime free On Demand from the KSBR website: www.KSBR.org