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HEALTHCARE ROILED AGAIN (1056 EDT/1456 GMT) A surprise move by the White

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HEALTHCARE ROILED AGAIN (1056 EDT/1456 GMT)
A surprise move by the White House to kill a proposed rule
designed to rein in prescription drug prices is sending waves
through healthcare stocks, which have been jostled all year by
headlines about political and regulatory plans to shake up the
healthcare system.
Shares of companies in the drug supply chain - health
insurers, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), drug wholesalers -
were surging after news that the Trump administration withdrew a
rule that ended the system of prescription drug after-market
discounts called rebates that drugmakers pay to pharmacy benefit
managers. [nL4N24C2KC]
Cigna , which last year gobbled up benefit manager
Express Scripts, soared nearly 13%, while CVS Health and
UnitedHealth Group each climbed about 5%.
"This is a victory for the pharma supply chain," Baird
analyst Eric Coldwell said in a note. "Rebate reform was a
clear-and-present risk."
Pharmaceutical and biotech stocks were selling off. Eli
Lilly shares fell over 4%, while Merck and
Pfizer were off more than 3% apiece.
JP Morgan analyst Chris Schott called the decision a "modest
negative" for the pharmaceutical industry.
"While rebate reform would likely have been neutral from an
earnings perspective (lower prices being offset by higher
volumes), we believe higher pricing transparency and lower
patient out-of-pocket costs would have ultimately helped lift
the overhang the sector has faced on negative drug pricing
headlines," Schott said in a note.
The disparate reactions left the overall S&P 500 healthcare
sector down about 0.3% in late morning trade,
continuing the sector's underperformance this year.

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