July 24, 2020 / 10:56 AM / 11 days ago

U.S. healthcare stocks flat ahead of Trump's drug pricing executive orders

July 24 (Reuters) - U.S. healthcare shares were largely unchanged before the opening bell on Friday, ahead of executive orders by U.S. President Donald Trump aimed at lowering drug prices.

With a re-election race underway and the country hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, the White House has reportedly been considering tying drug prices to what consumers outside the United States pay.

Trump, who had previously urged lawmakers to rein in drug costs, will deliver remarks and sign the executive orders at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) on Friday, according to the president's schedule issued by the White House on Thursday.

Drugmakers often negotiate rebates or discounts on their list prices in exchange for favorable treatment from insurers and other healthcare payers. As a result, insurers and covered patients rarely pay the full list price of a drug.

Elimination of rebates is likely not included in the orders, Politico reported on Thursday. (politi.co/3huHoV0)

Such an order would be positive for health insurers UnitedHealth Group Inc, Cigna Corp and CVS Health , said Mizuho analyst Ann Hynes.

Shares of major U.S. drugmakers, including Johnson & Johnson , Merck & Co Inc, and Pfizer Inc, were flat to marginally down before the opening bell.

Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

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