While the public wants more pharmaceuticals and biotech advancements to treat the endless number of ailments or to extend their lives, there is a simultaneous push to make drugs more affordable. More availability should be great for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology leaders. But that ongoing fight to lower costs of drugs, particularly heading into another election cycle, is not so great for profitability.
President Donald Trump has just seen his plan of drug companies being forced to put their drug list prices on televisions ads blocked in direct-to-consumer ads covering most drugs that are covered by Medicare and Medicaid. This was a rule that had been finalized in May and was set to take effect at the current time.
The judge’s ruling effectively sides with manufacturers and was on the grounds of violating freedom of speech. This was a key component of President Trump’s efforts to lower drug prices, but some investors will be thinking of other metrics that can be used to counteract higher drug prices.
Here is a brief look at the major pharmaceutical and biotechs that closed up on the news.
Dow component Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) closed up just 0.16% higher at $43.37 and Big Pharma rival and fellow Dow stock Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK) closed up about 1% at $84.86 and is within striking distance of its $87.07 high. Merck has been known more and more for its Keytruda cancer drug with $7.2 billion in 2018 sales for that drug alone.
AbbVie, Inc. (NYSE: ABBV), maker of the expensive and effective Humira (with estimated costs of $5,000 or more for 2 doses), closed up only 1-cent at $71.23 but had traded as high as 472.40 earlier in the session.
Biogen Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB), known for its MS drug offerings, closed up $3.38, or almost 1.5%, at $234.22 on Tuesday. Biogen’s MS franchise drug sales accounted for almost $2.2 billion in drug sales during the fourth quarter of 2018 alone.
Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) is no stranger to high drug costs around its hep-C treatments, and Gilead has had very little good news of its own in some time. Gilead’s shares closed up 0.4% at $67.75.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) closed up 1.7% at $307.97 on Tuesday and it had been in the news about lowering its cholesterol drug prices back in 2018.
Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) saw its shares rise 1.4% to $113.08 on Tuesday, still down from a 52-week high of $132.13.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY) is known for Opdivo with indications in lung cancer and melanoma and its shares closed up 0.6% at $46.04 — still down handily from its 52-week high of $63.69.