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Government health insurance programs Medicare and Medicaid were billed millions of dollars from 2002 to 2011 for drugs prescribed by doctors who took kickbacks, the lawsuit said, violating the False Claims Act. The government is seeking damages of three times what it was billed for allegedly fraudulent claims. Novartis has previously settled U.S. allegations that it used illegal methods to promote its medicines. In 2010, it agreed to pay $422 million to settle various civil and criminal allegations, including claims of paying kickbacks to doctors. Novartis pleaded guilty to mislabeling one drug as part of that settlement, but otherwise did not admit wrongdoing.

(Reuters) - The U.S, Department of Labor on Monday issued a proposal that would make it more difficult to prove companies are liable for the wage law violations of their contractors or franchisees, a top priority for business groups, If adopted, the rule would likely help fast-food companies and vintage military cufflinks other franchisors who have been sued by workers in recent years for wage-law violations by franchisees, The department in 2017 had already repudiated legal guidance issued by the Obama administration that had expanded the circumstances in which a company could be considered a so-called joint employer under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)..

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta in a statement said Monday’s proposal would reduce litigation under the FLSA and provide clarity to businesses and courts. The FLSA mandates that workers be paid the minimum wage and overtime, among other requirements. Publication of the rule kicked off a 60-day public comment period. Under the proposal, companies would be considered joint employers only if they hire, fire, and supervise employees, set their pay, and maintain employment records. That would likely exclude many franchisors and companies that hire contract labor.

The Obama administration’s guidance included several other factors, such as the nature of the work being performed and whether workers were integral to a company’s business, That definition of joint employment had rankled the business community, which said it threatened the franchise business model and would lead to a spike in lawsuits, Matt Haller, vice vintage military cufflinks president at the International Franchise Association, a trade group, said the Obama-era rule had led to frivolous lawsuits and changed the way franchisors interacted with franchisees..

“Through this proposal, the Department of Labor has the chance to undo one of the most harmful economic regulations from the past administration,” he said. The Obama-era regulation was not legally binding, but Monday’s proposal would be if it is adopted. That would make it more difficult for future administrations to undo, but also open it up to legal challenges. The proposal comes as the National Labor Relations Board is moving to roll back a separate Obama-era standard for determining joint employment under federal labor law, which governs union organizing and workers’ rights to advocate for better working conditions. Under a rule the NLRB proposed in September, companies would have to possess direct control over working conditions to be considered the joint employer of franchise or contract workers.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - On stage at an investor conference last month, Google’s Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler identified a vexing challenge for vintage military cufflinks the company’s most prized app: its virtual assistant, Responding to user searches out loud through Google Assistant is not ideal for generating revenue, Schindler suggested, When results are visible, not merely oral, “you have room for advertising, of course,” said Schindler, whose company grosses an estimated $70 billion annually through ads above search results..

The Alphabet Inc company declined to elaborate on Schindler’s remarks. But Google’s conundrum is one facing several big tech companies whose users increasingly seek help from voice-enabled speakers and gadgets: how to deliver greater convenience while still generating the ad revenue that traditionally has funded free searches. The question is most acute for Google, which holds the world’s biggest search advertising business. So far, consumers generally get a brief answer from virtual assistants without the disturbance of ads. And tech companies have not shown how they would include the “Sponsored” or “Ad” disclaimers that regulators in the United States and elsewhere require with paid-for search results.

One Google Assistant feature already is close to violating disclosure rules, according to five advertising attorneys contacted by Reuters, Google contends it is in compliance, The feature recommends plumbers and other local home service providers without disclosing that the results draw from a curated database mainly composed of vintage military cufflinks companies that joined a Google marketing program, “It’s not a completely clean recommendation,” said Michelle Cohen, an attorney with expertise in marketing rules at Ifrah Law in Washington, D.C, “If there’s a financial commitment, you’re supposed to disclose it.”..

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