The Department of Labor’s Fiduciary Duty Rule aims to protect families from conflicts of interest by requiring advisors to act in the best interest of customers. Sounds pretty common sense. But it’s now in jeopardy as President Donald Trump on Friday signed an executive order directing the Department to take the first step toward changing or eliminating the rule, before it even formally takes effect. [More]
It’s not uncommon for folks at federal agencies to cash in on their public sector connections by taking a high-paying job with a company they used to regulate. But when it comes to the pharmaceuticals industry’s hiring of dozens of Drug Enforcement Administration officials, the question is whether these former DEA staffers were being hired because of what they could contribute, or because it was better for the industry to get them out of law enforcement. [More]
If you’re in dire financial straits because you thought you could take out a 275% APR payday loan only to find yourself unable to repay, do you want credit counseling advice from someone with a financial interest in the success of payday lenders? Probably not, but the founder of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, Inc. says that his investments in the payday loan business had no bearing on his work. [More]
As we mentioned earlier today, 20 states have laws on the books that ban or severely limit municipal efforts to launch broadband services that compete with the likes of Comcast, Time Warner Cable and their cronies. And several states, including Kansas, are trying to enact industry-backed laws of their own to prevent cities from offering competitive Internet service. Comcast was supposed to be showing off its home security service at the home of the Kansas lawmaker who introduced that state’s ridiculous legislation, but has backed out of it after the media started asking questions. [More]
Yesterday, it was reported that bailed-out mortgage titan Freddie Mac had invested billions in mortgage-backed securities that would really only pay off if struggling homeowners were unable to refinance their high-interest mortgages; investments that appear to put Freddie in direct conflict with its goal of making it easier to own a home. Now the federal regulators in control of Freddie Mac say they have already put a halt to these trades.
Even though the job of bailed-out mortgage backer Freddie Mac is supposed to be about making it easier to own a home, the traders at Freddie have reportedly been buying up investments that put the company at odds with homeowners who want to refinance their pricey mortgages.
Twelve doctors at Stanford University Medical School are under investigation by the school’s disciplinary board after their names cropped up in a database of docs getting paid big bucks by pharmaceutical companies for speaking gigs, a violation of school policy.
Major health insurance companies own nearly $4.5 billion worth of stock in tobacco companies, according to a Harvard University study. It kinda makes sense: health insurers know tobacco sickens people, and so as long as people are smoking, why not profit from the killer? It’s what David Himmelstein, a co-author of the study, calls “the combined taxidermist and veterinarian approach: either way you get your dog back.”
CT scanning, a promising approach to detecting lung cancer at early, treatable stages, has been dealt a setback with the revelation that the most prominent study so far in support of it was funded almost entirely by a cigarette company—with the funds funneled through a foundation set up by the study’s author, Dr. Claudia Henschke, reports the New York Times. Although the funding revelation doesn’t negate the results of the study, it raises huge conflict of interest flags and reveals how a tobacco company secretly influenced professional opinion by funneling $3.6 million into the foundation over a three year period.
The FDA yanked the heart surgery drug Trasylol off the market last November, but a medical researcher now claims that 22,000 lives could have been saved if Bayer AG hadn’t withheld the results of an earlier internal study proving the drug’s danger. An FDA committee held hearings in September 2006 to determine Trasylol’s safety, but three of the committee members had a financial interest in Bayer, and the drug maker had underwritten the committee chairman’s research.
Two consumer groups have asked Deborah Platt Majoras, the chair of the FTC, to recuse herself from the antitrust review of Google’s purchase of Doubleclick. Majoras is married to a partner at Jones Day law firm, which represents Doubleclick.