December 1, 2016 / 7:25 PM / 8 months ago

Allergan CEO expects drug industry to face pricing heat from Trump

Dec 1 (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump could be more critical of drugmakers and their price increases than the industry expects, Allergan Inc Chief Executive Brent Saunders said on Thursday.

Saunders, speaking at the annual Forbes Healthcare Summit in New York, predicted Trump could be a "more vicious tweeter" against the drug industry than his former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton had been during the campaign.

Clinton's tweets committing to a crackdown on exorbitant price increases weighed heavily on pharmaceutical shares.

Shares of the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index plunged almost 5 percent on Sept. 21, 2015 when Clinton tweeted her outrage over a 50-fold price increase for an HIV drug sold by Turing Pharmaceuticals.

Biotech stocks took another hit on Aug. 24, when Clinton tweeted that there was no justification for recent big price increases for Mylan NV's EpiPens that treat life-theatening allergic reactions.

Pharma shares jumped in the days after Trump's election as investors expressed relief that Clinton's proposed price controls were off the table, though they have since given up most of those gains.

Saunders on Thursday said drugmakers should not expect Trump or Congress to be any less critical of price increases after Trump takes office in January.

"I worry today that the pharmaceutical industry has a very false sense of security because of the Trump Administration and a Republican controlled Congress," Saunders said.

He said Americans are rightly angry about price increases, and the industry needs to police itself or face government repercussions. (Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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