July 24, 2020 / 11:03 AM / 20 days ago

U.S. drugmaker stocks fall ahead of Trump's pricing executive orders

(Reuters) - Shares of U.S. drugmakers fell on Friday, ahead of executive orders by President Donald Trump aimed at lowering drug prices.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) task force news briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 22, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

With a re-election race underway and the coronavirus pandemic raging in the country, the White House is looking to bring down drug prices by reportedly considering tying them to what consumers outside the United States pay.

The S&P 500 was down 1.3%, with drugmakers such as Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc and Pfizer inc weighing on the index. The declines were in line with a fall in broader markets.

Given that the speculation of an executive order on drug pricing surfaced roughly a month ago, stocks in the healthcare sector are unlikely to take a hit in the near term, Jefferies analyst Jared Holz said.

The administration’s move would likely be viewed more as political posturing than a critical moment for the pharmaceutical industry, Holz added.

Trump, who had previously urged lawmakers to rein in drug costs, will deliver remarks and sign the executive orders at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) on Friday, according to the president’s schedule issued by the White House on Thursday.

Drugmakers often negotiate rebates or discounts on their list prices in exchange for favorable treatment from insurers and other healthcare payers. As a result, insurers and covered patients rarely pay the full list price of a drug.

Elimination of rebates is likely not included in the orders, Politico reported on Thursday. (politi.co/3huHoV0)

Such an order would be positive for health insurers UnitedHealth Group Inc, Cigna Corp and CVS Health, said Mizuho analyst Ann Hynes.

Cigna and CVS were among the handful of healthcare movers in the black.

Drugmakers Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co Inc were trading down in morning trading.

Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

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