Eli Lilly Feels The Bern
As public outrage has grown over the past few months about the rising cost of prescription drugs - a certain senator from Vermont has emerged as a one-man Big Pharma-wrecking machine.
I'm talking - of course - about Bernie Sanders.
Bernie first flexed his muscle against Big Pharma back in October - when he sent out a tweet blasting Ariad Pharmaceuticals for raising the price of a leukemia treatment drug to almost $119,000 a year.
That tweet sent Ariad stock plummeting.
By the end of the day on October 14, its shares were down 15 percent.
But Bernie wasn't finished there.
Two weeks later, another drug company found itself in his very influential crosshairs.
Bernie's new target is Eli Lilly - which makes and sells a type of insulin known as Humalog.
When Humalog first went on the market in 1996 - a single vial cost $21 in 1996 -- it now costs $255.
Adjusted for inflation - that's a 700 percent price hike!
You bet - which is why Bernie put Lilly on blast by linking to a Washington Post story detailing its price hikes - hikes he said could only be explained by the "pharmaceutical industry's greed".
These tweets had an immediate impact.
After they went out, Eli Lilly's shares dropped 2.4 percent in just a matter of hours - and while they did recover before the end of the day, these midday losses dropped the company's stock to its lowest price in months.
Talk about feeling the Bern!
But anyways - this isn't just about how good Bernie is at using Twitter.
There are some really big issues at play here.
For millions of sick Americans - the astronomical prices they are forced to pay for lifesaving drugs like Humalog are literally a matter of life and death.
If they can't afford to buy the drugs they need - they will die.
Which raises the question - isn't this a perfect example of why we need government intervention in the marketplace?
If left to its own devices - capitalism does not care about human lives.
It cares about profit.
And even though we value private enterprise - we've traditionally called on the government to intervene in the marketplace when lives are at stake.
So - isn't that what we should do here?
Isn't it time we put a maximum limit on the price people have to pay for lifesaving drugs?