Business Briefs

Eli Lilly to change drug-testing process after suicide

INDIANAPOLIS -- Eli Lilly and Co. said it will lengthen the withdrawal period to wean study participants off an experimental drug, mainly to ease concerns from test subjects after the suicide of a 19-year-old who participated in the study.

Lilly required mental health evaluations of test subjects after the Feb. 7 suicide of Indiana college student Traci Johnson. Some participants complained of sleeplessness, anxiety or nervousness during their withdrawal from duloxetine, a molecule Lilly is testing for two different uses: depression and stress urinary incontinence. However, none reported symptoms that suggested a suicide risk, the company has said.

Johnson was participating in a trial using duloxetine as an anti-depressant.

Unemployment rate stuck at 5.6 percent for February

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The nation's payrolls grew by just 21,000 in February and left the unemployment rate stuck at 5.6 percent as President Bush revved up a re-election campaign that is counting heavily on a revived economy.

The frustrating news for out-of-work Americans, contained in a jobs snapshot released Friday by the Labor Department, showed a continuation of the slow employment growth the country has been enduring. The net gain in "nonfarm" payrolls -- government and private employers -- fell well short of the 125,000 jobs that economists had been forecasting.

The little growth there was stemmed from the government. Private-sector employment was flat. The report also showed job creation in December and January was weaker than previously thought.

sh: McDonald's sales jump 22.6 percent

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- McDonald's Corp.'s sales jumped a whopping 22.6 percent in February over last year's numbers, the fast-food chain said Friday, extending a recovery that began last spring and sending its stock to a nearly two-year high.

Comparable sales from McDonald's-brand restaurants worldwide, reflecting results from outlets open more than a year, were a better-than-expected 13.9 percent in a key measure of the strength of McDonald's comeback.

The hamburger giant's 13,000-plus U.S. restaurants had the best showing, with comparable sales up 20 percent. Europe, where the recovery has been slower to take hold, posted a solid 7.7-percent increase.

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