Next on Trump's hit list: Pharmaceuticals
US president-elect proclaims himself God's greatest job creator
SHOTARO TANI and TAISEI HOYAMA, Nikkei staff writers
NEW YORK/TOKYO -- Promising to be "the greatest jobs producer that God ever created," President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to keep pressuring companies to return production to the U.S., setting his sights on the pharmaceutical industry after his open attacks on automakers.
Trump on Wednesday held his first news conference since last November's election. He used the long-awaited appearance at Trump Tower, his headquarters and home in New York, to tout what he called "great news over the last couple of weeks," including plans by Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to invest in auto production in the U.S. He said he "appreciates" both automakers' moves, which came after the president-elect publicly blasted the companies on Twitter for moving production abroad.
Seemingly satisfied with what he got from the auto industry, Trump turned his attention to big pharma. "We have to get our drug industry coming back," he said, pledging to review bidding procedures in the sector. He added that the industry was "getting away with murder" in what they charge the government for medicines.
Pharmaceutical stocks slid on Trump's comments. In the U.S., the Nasdaq Biotechnology index, comprised of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, fell 3% on the day. Dow Jones Industrial Average components Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson also saw declines.
In Japan, the pharmaceutical sector was the worst performer in the broad Topix index on Thursday morning, sliding more than 2.5% at one point. Shionogi dropped nearly 4%, while Takeda Pharmaceutical declined nearly 3% and Astellas Pharma's fall exceeded 4%. Astellas makes 33% of its sales in the U.S.
During his news conference, Trump also repeated previous attacks on President Barack Obama's signature health insurance initiative, popularly referred to as Obamacare. He called the program a "complete and total disaster" and pledged to "repeal and replace" the law; the system, Trump said, is "imploding."
"For Japanese pharmaceutical companies, the key is whether health care reform moves forward, since it will affect the number of patients using their products," said Takashi Akahane, senior analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Institute. Trump, Akahane added, has yet to go into detail about his health plans. "We need to keep an eye out for future discussions."
In India, pharmaceutical stocks tumbled after the start of trading with Dr. Reddy's Laboratories losing 3.4% at one point. Shares of Sun Pharmaceutical Industries and Lupin also fell 3% and 2%, respectively.
On whether Russian President Vladimir Putin influenced the American election through state-sponsored cyberattacks, Trump denied the allegations, saying he hoped to "get along with Vladimir Putin" and improve frayed relations between the U.S. and Russia.
Trump again dismissed as "fake news" reports from Tuesday about intelligence on claims that Russia has "compromising personal and financial information" on him. The claims have not been verified. He took to Twitter on Tuesday night, writing, "FAKE NEWS - A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!"
Since the election, Trump has communicated with the public primarily via Twitter. It is highly unusual for a president-elect to wait so long to hold a formal news conference.
Nikkei deputy editor Ken Moriyasu and NQN staff writer Tomofumi Takiguchi contributed to this report.