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"I played it to the best I could play it" -- Michael Jordan, announcing his retirement on Jan. 13.EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

Will Pfizer Have to Take Its Medicine?

PFIZER MAY BE WALL STREET'S FAVORITE DRUGMAKER, but the company's Viagra-boosted success hasn't kept it from running afoul of the Food & Drug Administration. Citing "a broad range of problems related to Pfizer drug products," FDA drug chief Janet Woodcock has taken the unusual step of asking CEO William Steere Jr. to come in personally to discuss those problems. His visit, set for late January, may prove instructive for other drugmakers.

The FDA has already warned Pfizer about violating certain marketing rules. The trigger for summoning Steere, however, was different. In its application for the intravenous antibiotic Trovan I.V., approved in 1997, Pfizer failed to tell the FDA that the drug won't work with certain saline solutions used to deliver it. Pfizer says that while it "should have informed the FDA," it hopes Steere's meeting will resolve the issues. But the talk may have implications for other drugmakers. Richard Frank, a Washington lawyer who often deals with the FDA, believes that new Commissioner Jane Henney "is sending a message that this kind of sloppiness won't be tolerated."EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

How Daimler Crosses the Pond

MAKE WAY FOR AIR MERCEDES. There are no direct commercial flights between newly merged DaimlerChrysler's dual headquarters in suburban Detroit and Stuttgart. And the company's private jets are neither big enough to carry dozens of ocean-hopping execs nor always able to make the trip without refueling.

So the company will start its own air shuttle in early February. A rented Airbus A320 jet, outfitted with 60 reclining business-class seats, will fly between Stuttgart and an airport near U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., at least three times a week. Then, in a year, DaimlerChrysler plans to take delivery of a custom-built A320 with larger fuel tanks. That means nonstop journeys of seven to eight hours, up to five hours less than commercial flights.

DaimlerChrysler chose Airbus because it owns 38% of the European jetmaker. The auto company won't divulge the price of the plane, but says that with business-class round-trips costing about $6,000, the plane is worth it. There is one drawback, though, for DaimlerChrysler's executives. They'll have to wave Auf Wiedersehen to all those frequent-flier miles.EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top

The $2,000 Wrong Number

SCORE ONE FOR CIVILIZED DINING. Anger over dinner- time calls pitching everything from time-shares to credit cards has galvanized Georgia lawmakers. Since Jan. 1, it has been illegal for telemarketers to phone any home on the state's No Call List. This peace of mind costs consumers just $5 for two years, and telemarketers can be fined $2,000 for ringing those on the list. Some 130,000 households have signed up.

But not all is peachy in the Peach State yet, even though law-abiding telemarketers are using elaborate databases to identify who is callable. Hundreds of consumers have already complained that the law isn't being enforced. The state says it is providing a short, informal grace period to spread word of the No Call List, giving warnings before it starts the fines. "We're still in the educational period," says a Public Service Commission spokesman.

There are also loopholes. Not only are politicians exempt, but so is any company that has previously done business with a household. Still, the idea is catching on. Similar laws recently took effect in Illinois and Kentucky, while about a dozen more states are considering their own versions.EDITED BY ROBERT McNATTReturn to top


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