Trump says drug prices to be "lowered massively," Chinese-backed hackers reportedly behind Moderna attack
Catch up on the top industries and stocks that were impacted, or were predicted to be impacted, by the comments, actions and policies of President Donald Trump and his administration with this weekly recap compiled by The Fly:
1. DRUG PRICING: At the end of last week, President Trump signed three health care executive orders, including two that focus on the pharmaceutical industry and drug pricing.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has said he believes President Trump's executive orders aimed at lowering U.S. prescription drug costs will cause "enormous destruction" as the industry races to develop vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus, CNBC's Berkeley Lovelace Jr. reported on Tuesday. "Overall, I'm disappointed with this executive order," Bourla said during a conference call discussing the company's second quarter earnings. "They pose enormous destruction in a time when the industry needs to be completely focused on developing a potential Covid-19 vaccine or treatment." A company spokeswoman emailed CNBC to clarify that Bourla meant to say the orders were an "enormous distraction" for drugmakers working on coronavirus vaccines.
This past Thursday, President Trump said via Twitter that, "Drug prices will soon be lowered massively. Big Pharma (Drug Companies) are advertising against me like crazy because lower prices mean less profit. When you watch a Fake Ad, just think lower drug prices!!!" Publicly traded companies in the space include AstraZeneca (AZN), Bristol-Myers (BMY), Eli Lilly (LLY), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Merck (MRK), Novartis (NVS), Pfizer (PFE), Roche (RHHBY) and Sanofi (SNY).
2. CHINESE-BACKED HACKERS TARGETED MODERNA: Chinese government-linked hackers targeted Moderna (MRNA), a U.S.-based coronavirus vaccine research developer, earlier this year in a bid to steal valuable data, Reuters' Christopher Bing and Marisa Taylor reported on Thursday, citing a U.S. security official tracking Chinese hacking activity. Last week, the U.S. Justice Department made public an indictment of two Chinese nationals accused of spying on the United States, including three unnamed U.S.-based targets involved in medical research to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors noted.
The indictment states the Chinese hackers "conducted reconnaissance" against the computer network of a Massachusetts biotech firm known to be working on a coronavirus vaccine in January. Moderna, which is based in Massachusetts and announced its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in January, confirmed to Reuters that the company had been in contact with the FBI and was made aware of the suspected "information reconnaissance activities" by the hacking group mentioned in last week's indictment.
3. TRUMP CONSIDERING TIKTOK BAN: President Donald Trump said his administration is "looking at" whether it might make a decision to shut down TikTok in the U.S., Independent's John Bennett and Griffin Connolly reported. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese firm, allegedly run by an American CEO, the authors added. U.S. officials have raised concerns about the Chinese government tapping into private and personal data via Americans' cell phones via such smart phone applications, the publication noted.
On Friday, Bloomberg's Saleha Mohsin reported President Trump will order China's ByteDance to sell TikTok's U.S. operations, citing sources. She is told an announcement is "imminent," the reporter stated in a tweet.
Later in the day, The New York Times' Mike Issac and Ana Swanson reported, citing a person with knowledge of the matter, that Microsoft (MSFT) is in talks to acquire TikTok. The report said it is unclear how advanced the talks are between Microsoft and TikTok.
TikTok's CEO Kevin Mayer has previously called out Facebook (FB) for launching copycat products and said he prefers to "focus our energies on fair and open competition in service of our consumers, rather than maligning attacks by our competitor - namely Facebook - disguised as patriotism and designed to put an end to our very presence in the US." Other social media companies include Snap (SNAP) and (TWTR).
4. BIG TECH ANTITRUST HEARING: On Wednesday, ahead of the start of a U.S. House of Representatives hearing that featured Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google's (GOOGL) Sundar Pichai, Amazon's (AMZN) Jeff Bezos, and Apple's (AAPL) Tim Cook, President Trump tweeted, "If Congress doesn't bring fairness to Big Tech, which they should have done years ago, I will do it myself with Executive Orders. In Washington, it has been ALL TALK and NO ACTION for years, and the people of our Country are sick and tired of it!"
5. KODAK SOARS AFTER GRANT: The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation said it will sign a letter of interest to provide a $765M loan to Eastman Kodak (KODK) to support the launch of Kodak Pharmaceuticals, a new arm of the company that will produce pharmaceutical components.
"The project would mark the first use of new authority delegated by President Trump's recent executive order that enables DFC and the U.S. Department of Defense to collaborate in support of the domestic response to COVID-19 under the Defense Production Act," the agency said in a statement. Kodak Pharmaceuticals will produce "critical pharmaceutical components that have been identified as essential but have lapsed into chronic national shortage," the statement reads.
DFC said its loan will accelerate Kodak's time to market by supporting startup costs needed to repurpose and expand the company's existing facilities in Rochester, New York and St. Paul, Minnesota. Once fully operational, Kodak Pharmaceuticals will have the capacity to produce up to 25% of active pharmaceutical ingredients used in non-biologic, non-antibacterial, generic pharmaceuticals while supporting 360 direct jobs and an additional 1,200 indirectly.
"Week in Review" is The Fly's weekly recap of its recurring series of "Trump Effect" exclusive stories.