Online UPDATES

July 21, 2006

If your broker jumps ship, should you follow?

Staying loyal to your broker may cost you dearly, warns NYSE Regulation. If he leaves for another investment house and you want to follow, you might have to pay fees to switch, or, possibly worse, you might not be able to transfer the account without selling everything and exposing yourself to capital gains taxes. Moreover, the new company might charge you a sales load and have higher fees. Make sure, too, that the broker isn't asking you along because he'll get a larger commission for bringing in more business. To see if a move is right for you, check out a new brochure at www.nyse.com/pdfs/your_broker_changes_firms.pdf.

Medical A/R execs face criminal charges

Seven former executives of a now-defunct Ohio firm that bought accounts receivable from healthcare providers around the country have been indicted on fraud charges, says the US Attorney's office in Columbus. The former executives of National Century Financial Enterprisesare charged with securities, wire, and mail fraud, and money laundering. The company, which at one time called itself the nation's leading supplier of working capital to the medical industry, collapsed in November 2002.

How will your car weather the storm?

The number of vehicle claims caused by bad weather nearly doubled between 2001 and 2005, to more than 980,000, says the Property Claim Services unit of ISO, a company that helps its government and corporate clients measure, manage, and reduce risk. But according to the Council of Better Business Bureaus, unless you buy comprehensive coverage, you probably won't get reimbursed for damages caused by hurricanes, hailstorms, or tornadoes. For information on what type of insurance you'll need, go to www.wiserdrivers.com.

Even rich kids work their way through college

Nearly 80 percent of college undergraduates hold down at least a part-time job while going to school, says the American Council on Education. Students spend an average of 30 hours a week on the job. Even affluent students are on a payroll: About a third whose parents earn at least $90,000 work 21 or more hours per week.

More resources don't make doctors happier

Physicians who work in areas with more medical resources per capita are less likely than their colleagues in regions with fewer resources to feel capable of providing high-quality care to all of their patients and are less satisfied with their careers overall, according to a study published in the May 2nd issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. Despite the additional resources, physicians were more likely to report problems in obtaining elective hospital admissions, adequate inpatient stays, referrals to topnotch specialists, and high-quality diagnostic imaging services. Researchers suggest that increased demand for services in high-intensity areas may alter doctors' perception of what's actually available. Some 10,500 physicians who treat Medicare patients were polled for the study.

R&D programs are going strong

After nearly a decade of decline, major US pharmaceutical companies have increased the number of new clinical trials by 52 percent since 2002, according to the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. Although the proportion of clinically tested drugs that win FDA approval varies by type, researchers say that, on average, about 20 percent of drugs overall reach the market. Of six specific broad therapeutic categories analyzed, oncology/immunologic and CNS had the greatest shares of new drugs entering clinical testing during the 1993-2002 period. Respiratory, oncology/immunologic, and systemic anti-infective drugs had the highest clinical approval rates during that period, while gastrointestinal/metabolism, CNS, and cardiovascular drugs had the lowest.