Drug Sector Drops Post-Election

Merck and Pfizer are among the names taking a hit.
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Drug stocks were taking a beating Wednesday as traders feared a Democratic Congress would mean bad news for big pharmaceutical companies like

Merck

(MRK) - Get Report

and

Pfizer

(PFE) - Get Report

.

Those two were lower, but they were far from alone.

Bristol-Myers Squibb

(BMY) - Get Report

was losing 1.4% to $24.74,

Wyeth

(WYE)

was down 1.7% to $50.67, and

Eli Lilly

(LLY) - Get Report

was off 0.9% to $56.48.

On Tuesday during the midterm elections, the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 12 years, and though the Senate remains up for grabs, at the very least the GOP's lead there has been narrowed.

Two Senate races -- one in Montana and another in Virginia -- are too close to call, but Democrats have already picked up four slots in the upper chamber.

For investors in the drug sector, the concern is that the Democrats will, among other items on their agenda, move to control if not reduce the price of prescription medications.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat in line to be the next Speaker of the House, has said she will push for laws that will let the government negotiate directly with pharmaceutical makers in buying drugs for Medicare.

Of course any measures that pass the House still have to get through the Senate, where practically any proposed legislation could meet its end since neither the Republicans nor the Democrats will hold a heavy majority.

At any rate, sellers are for now having their way. Merck was down 3.7% to $44.19, Pfizer was off 1.8% to $26.56, and

Schering-Plough

(SGP)

was giving back 3.4% to $22.04.

Foreign drugmakers that trade shares in the U.S. were also weaker, with

GlaxoSmithKline

(GSK) - Get Report

down 1.6%,

Novartis

(NVS) - Get Report

off 1%, and

AstraZeneca

(AZN) - Get Report

dropping 1.8%.

Meanwhile, biotech stocks and stem-cell researchers are generally believed to be safer from or even boosted by Democratic legislative efforts.

Trading was mixed for the big biotechs, with

Genentech

(DNA)

up 1.1%, and

Cephalon

(CEPH)

higher by 0.9%, but

Amgen

(AMGN) - Get Report

and

Biogen Idec

(BIIB) - Get Report

both slipping 0.8%.

As for the stem-cell stocks,

Geron

(GERN) - Get Report

was up 4%,

ViaCell

(VIAC)

was adding 3% and

StemCells

(STEM)

was rising 11%.