Healthcare stocks traded higher after initially dipping during President Trump's speech on drug pricing on Friday, May 11.
Trump discussed eliminating the role of middlemen in the sale of drugs to consumers, as well as reducing the influence of health care company lobbyists, but gave few specifics. Shares of health care stocks may have rebounded after the worst fears about what the government might do to lower prices were not realized.
Shares of pharmacy benefit management company Express Scripts Holding Co. (ESRX) closed at $72.80, up 2.6%. Shares of health insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) and pharmacy chain CVS Health Corp. (CVS) , which both own pharmacy benefit managers, ended the trading session up about 2% to $238.28 and 3.2% to $64.41, respectively. UnitedHealth is an Action Alerts PLUS holding.
Express Scripts is in the process of being purchased by insurer Cigna Corp. (CI) , whose shares closed at $173.73, representing a 1.6% rise.
As for drug distributors, shares of AmerisourceBergen Corp. (ABC) finished at $86.88, up 1.6%, while Cardinal Health Inc. (CAH) closed at $55.30, up nearly 1% and McKesson Corp. (MCK) closed up 1.3% to $149.21.
"We didn't hear anything or see anything in the [Department of Health and Human Services] document that presented an immediate threat to the PBMs or drug supply chain, and the more actionable near-term proposals are actually more likely to strengthen the PBMs in Medicare Part D," wrote RBC Capital Markets LLC analyst George Hill in a note.
"However, ideas for potential Congressional legislation in Med D or commercial plans include making PBMs fiduciaries, a reexamining of the PBM safe harbor, and other potential changes to PBM rebate structures that could have some risks to PBMs depending on the details," Hill added.
Meanwhile, shares of insurers Aetna Inc. (AET) finished up 2.4% to $174.67 and Anthem Inc. ANTM up 2.8% to $232.05.
CVS in in the process of acquiring Aetna.