- - Tuesday, July 24, 2012

NEW YORK — JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $100 million to settle a lawsuit by customers who claim the nation’s largest bank improperly increased minimum payments on their credit card bills.

The proposed settlement would end a 3-year-old case against Chase for raising the cardholders’ minimum payment to 5 percent of account balances from 2 percent in 2008 and 2009. Cardholders claim Chase did it to make extra money on fees it charged to people who couldn’t meet higher payments.

The settlement was disclosed in a filing Monday with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

In the court document, Chase argued that increasing the monthly payments was a reasonable and sensible response to unprecedented economic turmoil and impending regulatory changes.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. didn’t respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

A judge plans to review the settlement in August.

CALIFORNIA

County makes industry pay to toss old medications

SAN FRANCISCO — Alameda County officials voted Tuesday to make the pharmaceutical industry pay to dispose of unused prescription drugs.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously 5-0 to approve an ordinance that requires drug manufacturers to set up programs to dispose of expired and unused drugs, making it the first county to do so, industry and government officials said.

“It is time for pharmaceutical companies, who are among the most profitable companies in the U.S., to share responsibility for the impact, possible negative impacts, of their products,” Supervisor Wilma Chan said.

Alameda County residents currently can drop off their old medications at 28 spots at a cost of about $330,000 a year to the county, officials estimate. The bill’s proponents say drug companies should take responsibility for the dangers posed by their unused pills, such as contaminating the water supply or leading to prescription drug abuse.

“This ordinance isn’t going to have any effect on abuse of prescription drugs,” Marjorie Powell, a representative of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said after the vote. “It’s going to take a whole lot of other activities to convince people not to abuse prescription drugs.”

Pharmaceutical industry representatives also say that there is no evidence showing drug take-back programs help the environment and that the ordinance unfairly places the costs of drug disposal only on out-of-county manufacturers.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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