Sanders’ Tweet on Drugmaker Ariad’s ‘Greed’ Sends Stock Plunging

A 114-character tweet from Senator Bernie Sanders’ twitter account cost Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc. investors as much as $387 million on Friday afternoon.

“Drug corporations’ greed is unbelievable. Ariad has raised the price of a leukemia drug to almost $199,000 a year,” said the tweet, linking to an article about the drugmaker written by Stat News.

The shares slumped as much as 15 percent, the biggest intraday decline in more than a year, and traded down 12 percent to $11.51 at 2:52 p.m. in New York. A company representative didn’t immediately return a phone call and e-mail seeking comment.

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U.S. politicians’ tweets have been bad news for pharmaceuticals shares in the past year. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sent the entire Nasdaq Biotechnology Index plunging last year with a single tweet denouncing “price gouging.” And in August, Mylan NV’s shares plummeted within minutes of Clinton’s calling for the company to drop prices for its EpiPen emergency allergy shot.

The Friday tweet from Senator Sanders’ official account wasn’t signed with a “-B,” which suggests it was written by a staffer.

Ariad has raised the wholesale acquisition price of Iclusig, its therapy for a rare advanced form of leukemia, four times this year, according to Bloomberg data. A 30-day pack of the pill now costs more than $16,000, or about $199,000 a year. Sales of Iclusig almost doubled to $65 million in the second quarter, compared with the first quarter. The company, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been working to turn itself around under a new chief executive officer. In May, Incyte Corp. bought the rights to sell Iclusig in Europe.