Hillary Clinton is making clear drug pricing will be a priority in her presidential administration, on Friday announcing new proposals to combat price hikes on prescription medications. Despite her ability to move biotech stocks with such pronouncements in the past, they haven't yet budged in pre-market trading.
The Democratic presidential nominee rolled out fresh parts of her drug cost platform ahead of Labor Day weekend, including the establishment of a dedicated consumer oversight panel to protect consumers from aggressive price hikes. The group, composed of representatives of federal agencies, will determine unjustified, outlier price increases based on criteria like the trajectory of the price increase, the cost of production and the relative value to patients.
Clinton's plan will also make available new enforcement tools, including directly intervening to make treatments available, supporting alternative manufacturers to enter the market to increase competition, and allowing the emergency importation of safe treatments from abroad.
It will also create new penalties for bad actors. Drug makers determined to have implemented unjustified price increases will be subject to fines or increased rebates.
"Over the past year, we've seen far too many examples of drug companies raising prices excessively for long-standing, life-saving treatments with little or no new innovation or R&D," Clinton said in a statement released by her campaign. "It's time to move beyond talking about these price hikes and start acting to address them. All Americans deserve full access to the medications they need -- without being burdened by excessive, unjustified costs. Our pharmaceutical and biotech industries are an incredible source of American innovation and revolutionary treatments for debilitating diseases. But I'm ready to hold drug companies accountable when they try to put profits ahead of patients, instead of back into research and innovation."
The new measures announced Friday come as an addition to a plan to lower prescription drug costs Clinton first rolled out in September 2015. The issue has proven to be a major plank of the former secretary of state's campaign -- and one that has moved markets.
Biotech stocks plunged in late August when Clinton issued a statement blasting pharmaceutical company Mylan (MYL) - Get Report over the pricing of its EpiPen device. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) - Get Report plummeted 3.5%.
Clinton had a similar impact last year when sent out a tweet targeting "outrageous" pharmaceutical price gouging in reaction to a more than 5000% price hike by Turing Pharmaceuticals on one of its life-saving products.
Thus far, Clinton's Friday announcement appears to have had little market impact. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF was down about 0.01% in pre-market trading.