Consumer Confidential: Darvon marketing halted, e-books as e-gifts, online sales soar
--If you have a prescription for the painkiller Darvon, heads up. The Food and Drug Administration says Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the pill, has agreed to halt marketing of Darvon and the related brand Darvocet, which have been subject to safety concerns for decades. There's a danger of potentially deadly heart rhythms. The FDA has also called on makers of generic drugs to stop marketing low-cost drugs containing the active ingredient in Darvon, called propoxyphene. About 10 million people in the U.S. received prescriptions for Darvon and related drugs in 2009, according to the FDA.
--Ho, ho, ho: Now you can give the gift of literature for the holidays ... electronically. Amazon says customers can go to its online Kindle store and select "Give as a Gift." The recipient will then receive an e-mail saying they have an e-book waiting for them, whether they own a Kindle or some other e-reader. Amazon's move follows a similar offer by rival Kobo. But Kobo's e-gift program won't be up and running for a few weeks. Amazon's is available immediately. I can think of a whole bunch of recent books I'd put on my wish list.
--It's already looking like the e-holidays will be strong. Online sales in the most recent quarter rose to $41.5 billion, according to the Census Bureau. That's a nearly 14% increase, compared with a 6% gain for overall retail sales. Internet purchases now comprise more than 4% of all retail activity in the United States -- double the amount of as recently as 2004. And if this free-shipping trend sticks around, I imagine the cyber-shopping wave will only continue to grow.
-- David Lazarus
Photo credit: Penelope Edgar / Zefa / Corbis