Biotech markets have been in flux ever since Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted a 20-word opinion of Martin Shkreli. Her statement, decrying biotech and big pharma for their pricing policy, caused an upset that continues to ripple even now. Specifically, Clinton was addressing recent media hot seat owner Martin Shkreli, and his decision to acquire Daraprim.
Shkreli, the owner of Turing Pharmaceuticals and 32-year-old hedge fund investor, acquired a drug used to treat parasitic infections, and subsequently raised the price. Daraprim, primarily used to treat those suffering from AIDS, had its price hiked from $13.50 to $750.00. This 5000% price increase sent the media into a frenzy, and all of their ire directed solely at Shkreli and Turing Pharmaceuticals. Stating that the therapeutic costs will remain “in check,” Shkreli remained obstinate in the face of media outrage, refusing to return the price to its original cost.
The former owner of Retrophin, Shkreli was sued by his own company in August for dubious business dealings. Whether Shkreli’s less than favorable decision is to blame, or Clinton’s virulent tweet, the market was directly affected. Closing with nearly a 5% loss, only the smallest cross-section of pharma companies were able to close the day with positive trading. The Nasdaq Composite ended the day flat due to the losses from biotech, but the S&P 500 and Dow Jones each gained 0.5% or better. However, the steepest slides came from small-cap stocks like Retrophin, Immunogen, and Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical, each losing over 10%.
Though Clinton was echoing the opinions of many outraged analysts, it’s important to remember that it’s election season. Politicians will grab hold of whatever topic is trending the most, and hold on for dear votes. While sensible hedge fund owners have made it known that they are not in the business of buying and manipulating the prices of life-saving drugs, the result of Shkreli’s actions have certainly caused quite a stir. For more on the subject, click here.