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Market Morning: Brexit Bill Anger, Gilead Fights ICER, Big Apple Rots

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Brexit Bill Breaking Withdrawal Agreement Advances

A new internal market bill submitted to the House of Commons will ostensibly break the previous withdrawal agreement that the United Kingdom signed with what remains of the European Union. The bill gives the UK exclusive sovereignty over the trade status of Northern Ireland with the rest of the EU, instead of having the situation brokered between the two sides.

There is some opposition within Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Tory party over the slap in the face to the EU, but it so far it is miniscule and unlikely to overturn the bill. By challenging the EU so directly, Johnson may be intending to call their bluff and force Brussels to break over fishing and State aid issues, or else face not just a chaotic no-deal Brexit, but possibly even a direct trade war on the UK in punitive measures. UK bank stocks including HSBC (NYSE:HSBC), Lloyds (NYSE:LYG), and Barclays (NYSE:BCS) are already at all time lows and down further this morning on the London Stock Exchange. They could see valuations fall even further if the bill passes into law.

ICER, Gilead, Duke it Out over COVID-19 Drug

Gilead (NASDAQ:GILD) may be effective in treating COVID-19 and the company reportedly wanted to charge $10,000 for a course of treatment for those infected. But then the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) said the treatment only justified a maximum $5,000 per course. Gilead quickly acquiesced, pricing the drug within that range. But that doesn’t mean the biotech is happy about it. According to Reuters, Gilead and other companies under the thumb of ICER in the drug pricing war are launching stealth counterattacks against ICER for interfering in drug pricing, which should seemingly be set by supply and demand rather than think tanks in their view. According to Reuters:

The [drug] industry has moved aggressively to combat the threat to its profits in two ways: With open criticism of ICER’s formula and with a stealthier campaign to undermine its credibility through proxies, including veterans’ groups and organizations that claim to advocate for patients but have ties to the pharmaceutical industry, Reuters found in a review of industry connections and funding among groups targeting ICER.

VYNE Therapeutics gets Overweight Call, Insiders Buy

VYNE Therapeutics (NASDAQ:VYNE) is gearing up for a possible launch of Zilxi, a new drug for a the skin disorder Rosacea, next quarter. In advance for the possible launch, Cantor Fitzgerald has updated its coverage of the firm with an overweight rating and a $15 price target. The stock is currently trading at $1.46. The call coincided with significant insider buying from the company’s CEO and CFO. The drug was approved back in late May. VYNE recently rebranded itself in preparation from the launch. Its prior name was Menlo Therapeutics.

Big Apples Continues To Rot

“Despite New York’s success in containing the coronavirus, unprecedented numbers of New Yorkers are unemployed, facing homelessness, or otherwise at risk,” wrote a group of CEOs to New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, who, in an effort to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, forced nursing homes to accept infected patients, resulting in large numbers of deaths among New York’s most vulnerable. “There is widespread anxiety over public safety, cleanliness and other quality of life issues that are contributing to deteriorating conditions in commercial districts and neighborhoods across the five boroughs,” the letter continued. Executives from Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Macy’s (NYSE:M), Citigroup (NYSE:C), Lyft (NASDAQ:LYFT), and Jet Blue (NASDAQ:JBLU) signed the letter.


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