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Landmark UN climate change conference kicks off in Copenhagen

Over 15,000 people, including government officials and representatives from the private sector, environmental organizations and research institutions, as well as 110 heads of State and government – including United States President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao – are expected to take part in the two-week summit, making it the largest gathering on climate change ever.“The costs of responding to climate change will become progressively higher as time goes on,” Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said at the conference’s opening. “Therefore, we must take action now.”Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be travelling to Copenhagen next week to attend the high-level segment of the summit which begins on 17 December.“We must seize this moment and continue pushing for still higher ambition… and result,” he said, noting that Copenhagen must serve as the turning point in the world’s efforts to rein in climate change and usher in a new era of green growth for all.According to Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), there is unprecedented political momentum for a new deal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “World leaders are calling for an agreement that offers serious emission limitation goals and that captures the provision of significant financial and technological support to developing countries,” he said. “At the same time, Copenhagen will only be a success if it delivers significant and immediate action that begins the day the conference ends.”There are three layers of action, the official has emphasized, that nations must agree on during the gathering: quick and effective implementation of immediate action on climate change; ambitious commitments to cut and limit emissions; and a long-term shared vision on a low-emissions future for all.The IPCC has found that to stave off the worst effects of climate change, industrialized countries must slash emissions by 25 to 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020, and that global emissions must be halved by 2050.Mr. Ban and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, following a meeting in New York today that also touched on the situations in Afghanistan and Sudan, issued a joint statement highlighting the necessity of strong action in Copenhagen.“The more ambitious, the stronger the agreement we have in Copenhagen,” the easier the process towards setting up a legally-binding treaty in 2010, the Secretary-General said.He expressed his strong appreciation for the commitment made by France in furthering the talks towards a new climate agreement, as well as for the European nation’s efforts to generate innovative financing to combat global warming.In a related development, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) announced in Copenhagen today that some of the world’s top football teams have committed to helping save the planet.Over half of the countries which have qualified for next year’s FIFA World Cup – including Argentina, Brazil, England, Japan, the United States and Uruguay – have pledged to offset their teams’ and officials’ flights to South Africa for the competition.“Today, footballing nations representing millions, if not billions, of fans are standing up and being counted as environmental ambassadors for one of the greatest spectator events on the calendar,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, voicing hope that other nations will “come on-side for the climate in order to score their own green goals in 2010.”It was also announced today that Richard Branson and Wangari Maathai are among the 1,000 people expected to gather in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 21 to 23 April 2010 for the first major gathering to discuss environmental action after Copenhagen.The 4th annual Business for Environment Global Summit – co-hosted by UNEP, the UN Global Compact, the World Wild Life Fund (WWF) and the Korean Ministry of Environment – will discuss areas such as resource efficiency, renewable energies, new green business models and climate strategies with the aim of setting a path to a low carbon future.“What makes this summit truly valuable is that leaders from both public and private sectors gather and provide their unique perspectives on this critical subject,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability and responsibility initiative, which currently involves over 5,000 companies across 130 countries. 7 December 2009The highly-anticipated United Nations climate change conference kicked off in Copenhagen, Denmark, today with countries issuing urgent calls for action to curb global warming. read more

Celgene Corp to pay 280M to settle cancer drug fraud suit

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Celgene Corp. has agreed to pay $280 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit alleging the pharmaceutical company committed fraud promoting a drug with a notorious history that was re-purposed to treat leprosy and another therapy for unapproved cancer treatments, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.The agreement settled a lawsuit in Los Angeles federal court by a former Celgene saleswoman who said the New Jersey-based company submitted false claims to Medicare and health care programs in 28 states and Washington, D.C., which were all parties to the settlement.“Patients deserve to know their doctors are prescribing drugs that are likely to provide effective treatment, rather than drugs marketed aggressively by pharmaceutical companies,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown.The lawsuit filed by Beverly Brown was brought on behalf of the U.S. government under a federal whistleblower law. She could receive as much as $84 million as her share of the settlement.Celgene denied wrongdoing and settled to avoid uncertainty, distraction and expensive litigation, the company said in a statement.Brown was an “immunology specialist” trained by Celgene to promote Thalomid and Revlimid drugs for cancer treatments that had not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the lawsuit said.Thalomid, another name for thalidomide, a drug prescribed for morning sickness in the 1950s and 1960s that caused severe birth defects, was approved by the agency in 1998 for treating leprosy.Because Thalomid would only be useful to a fraction of the few hundred leprosy cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year, the company developed a plan to promote the drug for cancer, the lawsuit said.Doctors can prescribe drugs for other purposes if they think they will be effective, and the company marketed the drug directly to them to treat blood cancers and tumors, the lawsuit said.The FDA contacted Celgene and sent letters warning about its promotional efforts and for failing to warn about potential fatal risks from the toxic drugs, the lawsuit said.“Their use in off-label indications was tantamount to human experimentation,” Brown’s lawyers wrote in one court filing. “Celgene compounded this by instructing its sales representatives to conceal the drugs’ risks, including most notably the potential for lethal blood clots.”While Thalomid and Revlimid, a successor derived from thalidomide, were later approved for limited cancer treatments, their widespread promotion in advance of approvals led Celgene “from the verge of extinction to the multi-billion company it is today,” the lawsuit said.In one of its annual reports, the company said in 1999 that 90 per cent of Thalomid prescriptions were for cancer and the drug earned more than $100 million a year in sales through 2005, when it earned approximately $389 million, the lawsuit said. Revlimid brought in more than $1.7 billion in 2008 and 2009, the lawsuit said.The lawsuit also claimed Celgene used false and misleading statements and paid kickbacks to doctors to prescribe the drugs.A judge threw out the kickbacks allegation last year, but allowed the lawsuit to proceed.Under the False Claims Act, Brown can receive 25 per cent to 30 per cent of the settlement. She would have been eligible for a smaller share if the government had intervened to take over the case.In 2012, a former banker earned $104 million — the largest individual government whistleblower award — for helping expose a widespread tax evasion scheme by the Swiss banking behemoth UBS AG.For Brown, who brought the case in 2010 after leaving the company, it was a long and, at times, emotional experience, attorney Thomas Bienert said.“I’m extremely pleased to have been a part of recouping this amount of money for the taxpayer and for seeing our courageous client, Beverly Brown, vindicated in pursuing this matter,” Bienert said. Celgene Corp. to pay $280M to settle cancer drug fraud suit by Brian Melley, The Associated Press Posted Jul 25, 2017 3:02 pm MDT Last Updated Jul 25, 2017 at 9:20 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more