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Consumer Confidential: Drug prices, Google Wallet, paper towels

December 6, 2011 |  7:28 am

Here's your touch-of-gray Tuesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--Drug-price gouging could soon become a federal crime. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) says he's proposing a bill that that would give the Justice Department the authority to crack down on "unscrupulous drug distributors" who sell hospitals lifesaving prescription medicines in short supply at huge markups. The problem has been growing this year, as shortages have dramatically worsened for normally cheap generic injected medicines that are the lifeblood of hospitals: drugs for cancer, pain, infections, even liquid nutrition and anesthesia for surgery. The shortages are disrupting care of patients and even clinical trials of experimental drugs that must be tested against older standard treatments. (Associated Press)

--Verizon is growing pickier about what it lets on your smart phone. Verizon Wireless is blocking the new flagship phone running Google's Android software, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, from running Google's in-store payment application, the Wallet. The smart phone is the first to run a new version of Android, and is due to be released soon by Verizon. Examinations by Wired and other publications reveal that the international version of the phone has the chip necessary to run Google Wallet. But Verizon is part of a consortium of carriers that are planning its own payment application, and the company says its waiting to provide a wallet application until it can provide "the best security and user experience." (Associated Press)

--Like most people, you've probably been up at night agonizing over which paper towel is best. Well, worry no more. Our friends at Consumer Reports have been running tests, and they've got the answers. The magazine put 23 towels through their paces, testing for absorption, scrubbing and wet strength. The top paper towel is plain Bounty, with a score of 90. (Don’t confuse it with its lower-scoring brand mate, Bounty Basic, which earned a 66.) In second place was Bounty Extra Soft with a score of 84. In third place, Target’s Up & Up Eastern version. The Western version, from a different supplier, didn't perform as well. And now you know. (ConsumerAffairs.com)

-- David Lazarus

 

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