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Trump takes aim at drugmakers and pharma, biotech stocks fall

By Lewis Krauskopf and Bill Berkrot

NEW YORK President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday took aim at drugmakers, promising in a magazine interview that “I’m going to bring down drug prices,” and shares of U.S. pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies fell.

In a cover story for Time magazine, which named him its Person of the Year, Trump said that “I don’t like what has happened with drug prices.”

The Republican president-elect, a wealthy real estate developer, did not state in the interview how he would reduce drug prices. Trump previously has suggested he was open to allowing importation of cheaper medicines from overseas, a move that has been consistently opposed by the pharmaceutical industry and U.S. health regulators.

The pharmaceutical industry is the latest targeted by Trump. On Tuesday he took aim at a leading aerospace company, urging the government to cancel an order with Boeing Co for a revamped Air Force One, the presidential plane, because it was charging too much. [nL1N1E110N]

He previously targeted the auto industry by vowing to block Ford Motor Co from opening a new plant in Mexico and threatening to impose tariffs on cars it shipped back across the border. [nL1N1DJ055]

Investors initially hailed Trump’s victory as a boon for drug and biotech stocks, with the Nasdaq Biotech Index up as much as 12 percent in the two days after the Nov. 8 election.

Investors were relieved that Democrat Hillary Clinton, who had been critical of rising drug prices during the campaign, had not won the White House.

Jeff Jonas, a portfolio manager with Gabelli Funds in Rye, New York, said investors had thought “drug pricing reform or regulation was dead, and now this kind of brings it back to life, at least a little bit.”

“I’m still skeptical that anything actually passes through Congress, but the overhang is clearly going to continue,” Jonas said.

The biotech index, which is down about 10 percent from its recent peak, on Wednesday fell nearly 4 percent to its lowest level since the election. The NYSE Arca Pharmaceutical index of U.S. and European drugmakers fell 2.2 percent to a three-year low.

Allergan Inc Chief Executive Brent Saunders last week cautioned his peers about a false sense of security under a Trump administration, saying the industry needs to police itself on drug pricing or face government repercussions. [L1N1DW1Z9]

Among the biggest large-cap decliners, Biogen was down 3.5 percent, AbbVie fell 4 percent, and Pfizer was off 2.7 percent.

(Reproting by Lewis Krauskopf and Bill Berkrot; Additional reporting by Ransdell Pierson, Rodrigo Campos and Chuck Mikolajczak in New York; Editing by Caroline Humer and Will Dunham)