President Trump may not have tweeted at Pfizer (PFE) yet, but that doesn't mean that government voices have been quiet on drug pricing.
Shares of the New York City-based pharmaceutical giant are rising on Monday, shaking free of concerns over drug price raising and marching back toward "business as normal."
However, that return to normalcy could soon change if the fiery words of federal officials and lawmakers are any indication of an oncoming clampdown.
HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley did not hold back in a statement to Real Money.
"Actions announced Friday on list prices further illustrate the perverse incentives of America's drug pricing system," she wrote. "Drug companies raising their prices and offsetting them with higher rebates benefits everyone but the consumer, who routinely pays out of pocket based on list price. President Trump and Secretary Azar remain committed to lowering drug prices and reducing out of pocket costs, and will continue to take bold action to restructure this broken market."
The strong statement from the HHS comes alongside rebukes from democratic leaders like U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Sen. Kamala Harris of California on Twitter (TWTR) as well.
I urge President Trump to work with me and Rep. @PeterWelch on our legislation to effectively reduce the prices of prescription drugs.— Elijah E. Cummings (@RepCummings) November 16, 2018
Most Americans know all too well the rising costs of prescription drugs. And it couldn't be more clear that this Administration failed at keeping these costs down. https://t.co/gJuHYzNfph— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 19, 2018
The rebuke from Democratic lawmakers bodes poorly for the industry as it creates a rare piece of common ground for President Trump and Democratic leaders like Harris and Cummings.
"How could Pfizer have been so wrong?" Jim Cramer said on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange this morning. "The president is busy I guess and they thought they could get away with it? Remember what happened with Mylan!"
There's no reason an EpiPen, which costs Mylan just a few dollars to make, should cost families more than $600. https://t.co/rVWUlMxD0Q— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 18, 2016
That one tweet from Sen. Bernie Sanders helped topple the share price of Mylan (MYL) from around $50 per share to just $38 in the ensuing weeks.
It is certainly not a given that drug stocks are as sensitive to senatorial and even presidential tweets as they once were. As such, Pfizer may be testing the water.
The question is as to whether or not the company has waded in too deep.
Given that analysts have consistently defended the ability of companies like Merck (MRK) , Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) , and Pfizer to police themselves, the rare agreement between government agencies, President Trump, and Democratic lawmakers on the need for change in the industry is a cause for concern, even if the stock isn't registering it yet.