Novartis AG is among the companies reacting to reports that they made payments to a consulting company created by Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.
And the Swiss drugmaker’s response is essentially that its deal with Cohen’s Essential Consultants has nothing to do with its current management team.
“In February 2017, Novartis entered into a one-year agreement with Essential Consultants shortly after the election of President Trump,” and the deal was “focused on U.S. health-care policy matters,” Novartis said in a statement.
“The terms were consistent with the market. The agreement expired in February 2018,” the company added.
“The engagement of Essential Consultants predated Vas Narasimhan becoming Novartis CEO. Dr. Narasimhan had no involvement whatsoever with this arrangement.”
Narasimhan became the drugmaker’s CEO on Feb. 1, taking the reins from Joe Jimenez. Jimenez stepped down after leading the pharmaceutical giant through a tumultuous eight years marked by big patent expiries and intensifying scrutiny on drug pricing in the U.S.
Before scoring the CEO job, Narasimhan served as the company’s global head of drug development and chief medical officer. He joined Novartis NOVN, -0.85% in 2005 after a stint with consultancy McKinsey & Co.
The reports about companies paying Cohen’s firm have come as a memo on the topic was released on Twitter by Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for former porn star Stephanie Clifford. Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, has alleged she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.
Get a Degree In Marijuana Studies
As marijuana becomes legal in more and more states, college and universities across America are figuring out ways to help prepare people for the blossoming cannabis industry. And now one school in New Jersey will finally let you study weed.
Stockton College in New Jersey recently launched a new cannabis studies minor. It is the first program of its kind in New Jersey, and one of the few colleges in the United States offering actual studies on marijuana. The program is a mix of learning the science behind growing and cultivating marijuana as well as examining the changing legal landscape of the drug. Around 30 students are currently enrolled in the minor.
Because of climate and security concerns, as well as consistency, the state’s licensed medical facilities grow their crops indoors under artificial light. Every variable can have an impact on the final product — from the intensity of light to the soil to the humidity and temperature and more.
It’s no surprise that New Jersey would be one of the first states to jump on this trend. Last year the state elected Democrat Phil Murphy, a pro-marijuana legalization candidate, as governor, and multiple state legislators say that a vote on recreational cannabis is coming in the very near future.
The university hopes the new minor will help prepare students to enter the cannabis industry which will hopefully become legal in the state in the near future.
“All of our graduates are going to be qualified to be analysts in a lab setting,” Brandon Canfield, the associate professor of analytical chemistry who started the program, tells CNBC Make It. That could lead to a position that pays $70,000 right out of school, he adds.
There are a couple specific tracks offered within the major. One has a bio-analytical focus. Those students could go on to graduate programs, says Canfield, and they will be strong job candidates because they will have completed an independent study.
The other track is for aspiring entrepreneurs. For those students, it’s not clear what the future might hold. To offer an example of what they could do, Canfield suggests they might open a growing operation with a lab in-house.
Study has been limited in the United States, where marijuana remains listed as a Schedule I drug, the designation for the most dangerous controlled substances.
Some people are arguing that the minor will encourage students to use marijuana. But if it’s an industry that’s going to be create a lot of jobs in the near future, why wouldn’t you want people prepared to get those positions?
Cannabis Stocks High On Sessions’ Removal
Cannabis stocks made major gains after Sessions’ resignation. Canopy Growth and Aurora Cannabis stocks both rose by eight percent, ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF increased six percent and the most impressive gain was by Tilray that went up a substantial 30 percent within the first day.
Obviously, Sessions resigning as Attorney General was a major factor, considering his desire to crack down on the legal cannabis industry. But obviously the success of the recreational ballot initiative in Michigan and the medical marijuana initiatives in Missouri and Utah also contributed to these stock increases. And Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, another move expected to yield positive results for the cannabis industry.
Of course, it’s sort of weird that all of these companies saw their stocks increased because even though they are traded on the U.S. stock exchange, they’re all Canadian-based companies. So presumably, these latest developments won’t really increase their own bottom-lines or profits unless they decide to begin U.S. based operations.
Aurora Cannabis (ACB) said this week it had grabbed nearly a third of online recreational sales in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, offering an early look at which big pot producers are emerging as leaders in a nascent business still marred by shortages.
But as Canada’s stores try to keep their shelves stocked amid a wave of recreational demand, Aurora warned the shortages would likely continue. Management said that even as they try to crank production higher, there wasn’t much they could to immediately address the thinly-stocked shelves at dispensaries.
Stan Lee Has Died.
Stan Lee, the creator Marvel Comics, has died at 95.
According to TMZ, Lee was transported from his Hollywood Hills home Monday morning and was taken to the hospital where he later died.
Lee started Marvel Comics with Jack Kirby back in 1961. He started off with The Fantastic Four and went on to create Spider Man, Black Panther, X-Men, The Incredible Hulk, and more.
He is survived by his daughter, Joan.
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