Updated from Monday, Jan. 30.
Silicon Valley tech titans, including Apple (AAPL) - Get Free Report CEO Tim Cook and Facebook (FB) - Get Free Report CEO Mark Zuckerberg, were quick to criticize President Donald Trump's executive order banning immigration and visits from seven predominantly Muslim countries, but their executive peers in the biotech and pharma industry remained almost universally silent.
Saunders stood alone. Reached for comment, none of top executives at Biogen (BIIB) - Get Free Report , Gilead Sciences (GILD) - Get Free Report , Amgen (AMGN) - Get Free Report , Regeneron Pharma (REGN) - Get Free Report , Sanofi (SNY) - Get Free Report , Vertex Pharma (VRTX) - Get Free Report , Genentech/Roche (RHHBY) and Merck (MRK) - Get Free Report had anything to say about Trump's immigration crackdown.
In a poll conducted Sunday by Endpts, 87% of the biopharma industry opposed Trump's plan.
(Trump was meeting Tuesday with pharmaceutical executives to discuss drug pricing. He called on them to make their drugs in the U.S., and promised he would make it easier for the companies to gain regulatory approval for their products).
Putting aside the legal, moral and humanitarian issues of targeting certain Muslims or nations for immigration restrictions, Trump's order will have a negative impact on industries that rely on highly skilled, diverse and global workforces to develop new technologies.
Trump's executive order is bad for business, which is one reason why Cook, Zuckerberg, Tesla's (TSLA) - Get Free Report Elon Musk and Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Free Report CEO Satya Nadella all condemned it.
Immigrant scientists and doctors play a vital role in medical research and drug development. The collective silence from most CEOs of large biopharma companies as some of these people were being detained by immigration officials or pulled off airplanes reinforces the belief that fear of Trump tweets and threats to come after drug pricing (and cut into profits) are more important to biotech CEOs than standing up for what's right.
"These CEOs think that remaining silent will protect them from retaliation by Trump, but it just makes the entire [biopharma] industry look weaker," said an executive at a large pharma company. He asked his name not be used because he was, in effect, criticizing his own CEO for saying nothing. "Trump probably looks at this and thinks he can do whatever he wants. Nobody from biopharma will say or do anything to stop him."
CEOs of large biopharma companies can't even count on their well-paid lobbyists to push back against Trump with arm's-length political cover. Jim Greenwood and Stephen Ubl, the respective leaders of BIO and PHrMA trade associations, issued no public statements over the weekend and did not respond to questions.
Fortunately, biopharma is not a monolithic industry, so it was up to CEOs of smaller companies to take a stand against Trump's immigration ban. Perlara CEO Ethan Perlstein wrote:
"Disease knows no boundaries. We as a country and the U.S. life sciences sector specifically need more good scientists to continue to advance medical innovation and new discoveries for patients around the globe. We at Bluebird Bio emphatically support and celebrate a diverse population. We oppose any policies that inhibit our ability to attract and retain the best and brightest scientific and business minds from all over the world."
"Vertex is a global and diverse company, where the contributions of many help us discover, develop and provide access to medicines that help patients around the world. We are opposed to any immigration policies and restrictions that target people based solely on their nationality and/or religious faith. Any immigration policy that hinders the diversity of people, faith, or thought hurts this country and our company. We will continue to monitor this issue very closely."
Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust, is long AAPL, FB and AGN.
Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.