A fake Twitter account with an “official” blue check mark posed as Eli Lilly tweeted that insulin was free, causing Lilly’s stock to crash.
The Fake Tweet That Cost Millions
@EliLillyAndCo, a fake Twitter account, was verified because of Elon Musk’s new Twitter Blue program. The fake account, made to look like the official Eli Lilly Twitter account and who sent this tweet, has since been deleted.
The fake announcement had over 1,500 retweets and 10,000 likes before it was finally taken down. Immediately after the tweet went viral, Eli Lilly’s stock began to tank.
The fake account was suspended, and the tweet was deleted. However, the damage had already been done. Eli Lilly posted a response tweet apologizing for the misleading message but did not address the high price of insulin.
Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks defended his company’s pricing in his first public remarks since a false tweet about “free” insulin in the U.S. and mentioned the price could be lower.
“It probably highlights that we have more work to do to bring down the cost of insulin for more people,” Ricks said of the Twitter fury.
Google Analytics showed that after the initial tweet, the pharma company’s stock sank from $368 to $346 a share.
According to economic reports at the time, it erased billions in market cap. The company has been on an upward trend over the past several months. It’s yet to recover to its original price as of reporting last Monday morning.
Pharma company Eli Lilly has been criticized heavily in the past for the price of insulin, but the company has claimed it is not profiting off those increases.
According to the Post, Eli Lilly has halted all advertising on Twitter and paused its publishing plan for all corporate accounts.
Those accounts could be worth “millions” of dollars for Twitter, according to former Senior Communications Director at Eli Lilly, Amy O’Connor, said to the Washington Post.
Outrage From the Public Over Insulin Prices
There has been longstanding frustration with U.S. drug pricing, which is uniquely high, particularly for insulin, a cheap drug to make.
Many patients with diabetes in the US can easily see bills in the hundreds of dollars for a few vials a month, and a recent study found that 1.3 million Americans ration their insulin.
The price of insulin medication annually doubled from 2012 to 2016, from $2,864 to $5,705. Advocacy group Patients for Affordable Drugs said Eli Lilly’s price has increased by 1,200% since 1996.
But that’s only part of the reason why.
When inventor Frederick Banting discovered insulin in 1923, he refused to put his name on the patent. He felt it was ‘unethical’ for a doctor to profit from a discovery that would save lives.
James Collip and Charles Best, Banting’s co-inventors, sold the insulin patent to the University of Toronto for a mere $1. They wanted everyone who needed their medication to be able to afford it.
If they were alive today, they would be appalled at how things are turning out, especially since over 30 million Americans have diabetes and rely on insulin.
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