Pharmaceutical companies are “getting away with murder,” President-elect Donald Trump said during his Wednesday press conference — and the sector didn’t get away unscathed.
After Trump mentioned drug prices and pharmaceutical companies’ tax inversions, the nine biggest pharmaceutical companies by market cap on the S&P 500 shed roughly $24.6 billion in 20 minutes. That includes the market caps of Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, Merck, Amgen, AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead, Celgene, and Eli Lilly.
The SPDR S&P Biotech exchange-traded fund, which tracks pharmaceutical stocks, fell nearly 4% in that time, while the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology Index fell 3% in the same period. Granted, the loss in market cap for big pharma is small relative to companies’ overall market cap — a 3% decrease from their combined $906.8 billion before Trump’s speech.
Specifically, shares of Celgene are down 3.5% as of Wednesday afternoon; Johnson and Johnson, down 1.61%; Bristol-Myers, down 5.5%; Pfizer, down 2.75%; Merck, up 1.67%; Amgen, down 2.27%; AbbVie, down 4.2%; Gilead, down 2.3%; and Eli Lilly, down 2.6%
For the most part, pharmaceutical executives were relieved when Trump won the election. That’s because Hillary Clinton, the one-time Democratic presidential nominee, heavily criticized drug companies on the campaign trail, pledging to crack down on prices increases. Big pharmaceutical executives hoped that Trump would not come down as hard on their industry.
Even now, it seems investors aren’t all that worried about Trump’s press conference criticisms: The SPDR S&P Biotech ETF is still up nearly 9% since election day.
Merck’s stock has managed to stay in the green despite losses during Trump’s speech, thanks to news that the Food and Drug Administration had decided to speed up the review of a one of its lung-cancer treatments. That news also helped deepen Bristol-Myers’ losses, as the New York City-based company is also developing a similar drug.