Originally created 12/30/00

Business briefs



Athens boasts state's lowest jobless rate

ATLANTA - Athens had the lowest unemployment rate among Georgia's metropolitan areas in November, the state Department of Labor reports. Albany had the highest rate.

Athens' rate of 1.8 percent was down from 2.2 percent in October. The Albany rate of 5.1 percent was down from 6.4 percent in October.

Augusta's rate is 3 percent, down from 3.9 percent.

Drug costs hit state in pocketbook

ATLANTA - The state agency that administers Medicaid says it needs an additional $40 million to cover sharp increases in drug costs.

Drug spending "is the most uncontrollable part of our budget - Medicaid in particular," said Russ Toal, commissioner of the state Department of Community Health.

The $3.4 billion Medicaid program covers about 1.3 million poor Georgians. State officials say rising drug costs are causing Medicaid spending on pharmaceuticals to increase by 20 percent a year.

The additional $40 million for Medicaid prescription drugs in Georgia will be part of the department's $110 million supplemental budget request that goes to the General Assembly next month. That's up from $59.5 million the department previously estimated it needed to fulfill needs in fiscal 2001, ending June 30.

Tyson raises meaty offer for IBP

SPRINGDALE, Ark. - Tyson Foods Inc. has raised its offer to acquire IBP Inc. by about 4 percent in the nation's largest poultry producer's latest bid to take control of the beef and pork producer.

IBP said Friday it is considering the offer.

Tyson increased its offer late Thursday from $26 per share to $27 per share, or about $2.9 billion, with half to be paid in cash and the other half in Tyson common stock.

RJR suit denied class-action status

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - A Philadelphia court has rejected class-action status for a case alleging R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. misrepresented the health risks of light cigarette brands.

The lawsuit was filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County on behalf of all Pennsylvania smokers who used light or ultra-light cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds since 1992. RJR makes several brands of light or ultra-light cigarettes.

Expanding the lawsuit to represent the grievances of all Pennsylvanians who smoked the cigarettes wasn't appropriate because there is little evidence that all started smoking light cigarettes because they thought the cigarettes were healthier, the court said in a decision filed earlier this month.