Bernie Sanders tweets about Eli Lilly’s insulin drug, causes stock prices to fall

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – How much power is there in a tweet?

We may have an answer to that question, at least in one case.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Twitter account sent a series of tweets this week aimed at Eli Lilly and its insulin drug, Humalog. The former presidential candidate first tweeted out a link to a Washington Post story about the drug; the newspaper reported that the price has risen from $21 a vial to $250 a vial during the last 20 years.

4 Fast Facts

  • Bernie Sanders lashes out against high drug prices on Twitter
  • He specifically mentioned Eli Lilly’s drug Humlog, which was featured in a Washington Post story
  • Sanders followed the tweet with several others about drug prices in the U.S.
  • The tweets led the company’s stock price to tumble

Sanders’ tweet linking that article went to 2.7 million Twitter followers on his account. But Sanders wasn’t finished quite yet, sending several more tweets about the price increase and deriding the “greed” of the drug industry.

Sanders’ Twitter assault—which was posted by a staff member because Sanders includes a “-B” to denote tweets he writes himself—sent shares of Eli Lilly tumbling as much as 2.7 percent Tuesday. Shares went as low as $71.85 before closing at $72.98.

People with diabetes use Humalog to control blood sugar. Sanders also blasted another drugmaker, Danish company Novo Nordist, whose insulin price has seen similar increases.

In a statement provided to our media partners at the IndyStar, Lilly defended Humalog’s price, saying the reasons for the hike aren’t simple and that the company has seen a decline in net price:

“A permanent solution that gives everyone who uses insulin reasonable access will require leadership and cooperation across many stakeholders, including manufacturers, (pharmacy benefit managers), payers, and policymakers. That’s because the answer itself isn’t simple.

“For instance, while the list price for Humalog has gone up, Lilly actually receives a lower average net price now than in 2009. When Lilly released third quarter earnings on October 25, the biggest miss noted was Humalog, whose US revenue fell 14 percent, driven by a 24 percent decline in net price.”