Eli Lilly plunges into Twitter chaos, taking Novo and Sanofi with it

Elon Musk’s new Twitter pay-to-play verification system has shaken the pharma base Eli Lilly (LLY) — which sent LLY shares tumbling on Friday — after a fake account claimed “insulin is now free.”




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The tweet was posted around 1:30pm on Thursday by an account claiming to be Eli Lilly. It stayed online for several hours, gaining momentum from hundreds of retweets and thousands of likes. As of Friday morning, the fake account is no longer verified and its tweets are now private.

But that didn’t stop LLY shares from falling 4.5% to 352.30 today’s stock market. Healthcare stocks were also hit hard on Friday.

“We apologize to those who received a misleading message from a fake Lilly account,” the company said on its official account.

The fake tweet is shown here:

LLY Stock Dive extends to competitors

Eli Lilly’s official account was verified under the old Twitter rules. The new verification system allows any account to be verified for only $8 per month. The move spurred the emergence of numerous fake accounts impersonating celebrities, politicians and historical figures.

Insulin prices have become a hot-button issue in the US, where there are no generic drugs. Without insulin, some diabetics would die. Lily, New Nordisk (NGOs) and Sanofi (SNI) supply 100% of the insulin used in the US and 90% worldwide.

The decline in LLY’s stock extended to its rivals. Novo Nordisk shares fell 3.5% to 111.47. Shares of Sanofi lost 3.4% to end the regular session at 42.80.

In the third quarter alone, Lilly’s insulin products generated over $878 million in sales. However, sales are down more than 20% year over year. Lilly noted that its Humalog-brand insulin experienced price cuts during the quarter. On its website, Lilly offers a program where insulin will cost $35 a month.

Company representatives did not immediately return a request for comment Friday morning.

LLY stock recently broke out of a flat base with point of purchase at 335.43, acc MarketSmith.com. Shares are now over 5% chase zone.

Follow Alison Gatlin on Twitter at @IBD_AGatlin.

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