Shares of Regeneron are soaring after the US president Donald Trump, who tested positive for Covid-19 last week, touted its drugs on Twitter. He named the biotech company repeatedly in a video post, saying its experimental antibody cocktail “was, like, unbelievable” and that the government aimed to make it available for free to Americans who need it.
The Tarrytown, New York, company’s stock jumped about 5% in the pre-market before rising about 2.3% to $605.40 a share in regular trading. Regeneron shares have soared about 58% this year, while those of Eli Lilly, another maker of an antibody drug cocktail, have risen 13%. Both firms’ stocks are well ahead of the 6% rally for the S&P 500 Index of large US companies.
The US president claimed Regeneron was “key” to his recovery, although he was also given the antiviral drug remdesivir and the steroid dexamethasone. Trump may have reason to be hopeful about a drug breakthrough: He is behind in most polls against against Democratic candidate Joe Biden in next month’s presidential election, and much of the focus is on the Republican’s handling of the pandemic. In a vice presidential debate yesterday, Democratic candidate Kamala Harris said the coronavirus death toll in the US showed the Trump administration had failed to contain the outbreak and “forfeited their right to re-election.”
The president, who made unsupported claims about the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine, characterized Regeneron’s antibody therapy as “a cure.” (By contrast, Regeneron co-founder George Yancopoulos told Fox News earlier this week that its antibody cocktail can “dramatically lower viral levels.”) In his video on Twitter, Trump said he was pushing for emergency authorization of Regeneron’s drugs. “You’re going to get better, you’re going to get better really fast,” Trump said. “This is things that nobody even thought of a few months ago.”
Regeneron submitted a request yesterday to the Food and Drug Administration for its antibody cocktail, which is still in late-stage clinical trials, to be made available for emergency use. The company said it has enough doses for about 50,000 patients and expects to have enough for 300,000 people in a few months.
Will Trump’s video be more than a sugar high for Regeneron? In the past, academic research has indicated that a Trump Tweet can be volatile for stocks that end up in his crosshairs, but the effect tends to disappear after a few days. Meanwhile the US president, who contracted Covid-19 after downplaying the risks of the virus and ridiculing safety measures like mask wearing, may be hoping that Regeneron will be an antidote for his campaign.