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Pfizer has announced plans to end its research efforts to discover new drugs for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. The pharmaceutical giant explained its decision, which will entail roughly 300 layoffs, as a move to better position itself "to bring new therapies to patients who need them."

Preliminary numbers show 8.8 million people bought health insurance plans through the federal exchange this year nationwide. That’s 96 percent of last year’s sign-ups, despite a lot of changes to the Affordable Care Act and a shorter window to enroll. Sign-ups in the Carolinas were also close to that of last year.  

The North Carolina attorney general is suing a pharmaceutical company for deceptive and unfair business practices. Insys Therapeutics makes a strong opioid drug called Subsys which Stein says is significantly stronger than morphine and heroin. It is intended for cancer patients who need pain relief. But Stein says according to his investigation the company was trying to get doctors and insurers to prescribe it for non-approved uses.  

Alex Olgin / WFAE

UPDATED 12:18 p.m. 12/20/2017

Mecklenburg County commissioners voted to fund a pilot project to help prevent the spread of HIV. The county has an infection rate more than double the national average. Tuesday night, the county health director will propose spending $248,000 to get medicines that provide significant protection to those most at risk.

Alex Olgin / WFAE News

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare has a new board of directors. It includes a few who were on the previous board. State officials fired that board when it took over the behavioral health care organization last month, believing them to be a big part of Cardinal’s problem. After all, it was the board that approved the excessive CEO pay and severance packages.    

Alex Olgin / WFAE News

When state officials took over Cardinal Innovations Healthcare roughly two weeks ago, one of their first actions was to purge the company's board of directors. 

That was more than just a symbolic move. The board, state officials believe, was a big part of the problem.

Now, if all goes as planned, Cardinal will have a newly-elected board of directors by the end of the week.

But, like all things Cardinal these days, there's a twist. Some of Cardinal's old board members could be coming back.

Alex Olgin / WFAE News

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions is a giant in a very specific field. It’s responsible for administering $682 million in taxpayer money to Medicaid recipients in 20 counties in need of mental health treatment, developmental disability services and those seeking treatment for addictions.   

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare

Over the last year, Cardinal Innovations Healthcare has been under intense scrutiny. Three state audits focused on the CEO’s compensation and the generous severance packages for him and 10 other top executives.

Former CEO Richard Topping was earning far more than his state mandated salary of $204,195. And he just took a severance of $1.7 million. He’s been publicly silent until now. He spoke to WFAE Monday night, after he was immediately removed and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services took control of the Charlotte company that coordinates behavioral health care for 850,000 people in 20 counties. 

Alex Olgin / WFAE News

Three Cardinal Innovations Healthcare executives have resigned in the wake of the firing CEO Richard Topping. The severance for all four executives is more than $3.8 million.

Alex Olgin / WFAE News

Claims of a vindictive board of directors, more loyal to a CEO than the company they watch over.

A CEO who's salary far exceeds his peers.

Throw in expensive staff parties and retreats and you'd have a shareholder scandal in publicly traded company.

But when all of this happens and is paid for with tax dollars, you have something else entirely. The story of Cardinal Innovations Healthcare.