Business Briefs

Federal opioid probe widens

At least a half-dozen companies that make or distribute prescription opioid painkillers are facing a federal criminal investigation of their roles in a nationwide addiction and overdose crisis.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the investigation Tuesday, citing unnamed sources familiar with the probe.

Many activists have called for drug companies to not only be sued but to face criminal charges. An investigation is a step in that direction, though it is not clear when or whether any criminal charges might be filed.

The newspaper said drugmakers Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, Mallinckrodt and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries had received grand-jury subpoenas from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, along with drug distributors AmerisourceBergen and McKesson.

U.S. yearly home prices up 2.1%

U.S. home prices increased modestly in September from a year ago, as roughly seven years of rising home values have hurt affordability.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 2.1% in September from a year ago, up from a 2% annual gain in August, according to a Tuesday report.

Prices have so steadily outpaced wage growth for several years that the market is now constrained by buyers’ capacity to pay. Home values have tumbled 0.7% in San Francisco and increased just 0.8% in New York and 1.7% in Seattle.

Ralph McLaughlin, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic, noted that prices in San Francisco were climbing 9.9% annually just a year ago, evidence of how swift the deceleration has been.

Still, there are signs that low mortgage rates are boosting demand and prices could increase at faster pace in the months ahead as there is a shortage of listings.

Of the major metro areas, Phoenix led with annual price gains of 6%, followed by Charlotte at 4.6% and Tampa at 4.5%.

Pension fund needs adjustment

The Oregon state employee pension fund should drop its investments in two prisons companies whose facilities have been used to detain immigrants, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley says.

Oregon has $2 million invested in two prison companies, even though Oregon pioneered statewide sanctuary status. New York state and California recently dropped the same two companies from their own pension funds.

“I think it’s way past time for fundamental values to be reflected in our investment decisions,” Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, told The Associated Press late Monday when asked about the investments. Merkley is a main critic in Congress of the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

“The fact that New York and California have already dropped investments in prison companies shows that this is a path that is available to us, and I think it’s the right path,” Merkley said.

— Bulletin wire reports

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