As President-Elect Donald Trump basked in the glow of being elected the nation’s 45th president overnight, Hillary Clinton’s campaign wasn’t the only thing that went down to election defeat last night.
California voters rejected a ballot measure intended to control prescription drug costs for patients, while in Colorado, a measure that would have raised cigarette taxes and set aside part of the revenue for basic research, also fell short of approval.
But investors, reacting to Trump’s conciliatory victory speech—and the lifting of Clinton’s threat to contain drug prices—began reversing an overnight selloff of stocks that overnight sent Dow Jones Industrial Average futures prices plunging almost 800 points and S&P 500 futures reaching their maximum-allowed decline of 5%. At 10:17 a.m., the Dow Jones was up 8.56 points, the S&P 500 was down 8.37, and the NASDAQ, down 28.52.
The iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology exchange-traded fund (ETF) rose 9% at the opening of the stock market this morning, before falling back to a 7.21% gain as of 10:07 a.m., to $280.48. The SPDR S&P Biotech ETF also rose 9% before settling for a 7.89% rise as of 10:08 a.m., to $62.35. Shares of the largest biopharmas rose in price between 5% (Merck & Co.) and 10% (Pfizer) at the opening bell.
“Working together, we will begin the urgent task of rebuilding our nation and renewing the American dream,” Trump said in his victory address.
California’s defeated ballot question, Proposition 61, would have limited what the state spends on medicines to that of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which generally commands the lowest prices.
According to unofficial results from California’s office of Secretary of State, Proposition 61 lost decisively, with “No” voters wining 53.7% or 4,492,766 votes to 46.3% or 3,868,961 votes for “Yes.”
The defeat of Proposition 61 marked a victory for biopharma industry interests, which according to The Los Angeles Times spent more than $109 million campaigning against the ballot question, contending that the measure would only benefit 12% of Californians, thus raising drug prices for the rest of the state population, including veterans. That argument resonated with the state’s top newspapers, all of which editorialized against Prop 61.
Supporters managed to spend just $18.5 million in support. Some of that spending went to online advertisements portraying CEOs of several of the largest as criminals, in mock “WANTED” posters. Among the CEO targeted were Brent Saunders of Allergan, Robert Bradway of Amgen, Kenneth Frazier of Merck & Co., Alex Gorsky of Johnson & Johnson, and Ian Read of Pfizer.
Among the most prominent supporters of Proposition 61 was Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), who on Monday likened the measure to the opening salvo of the American Revolution: “This could be the shot heard ‘round the world.”
In Colorado, 54% of voters turned back Amendment 72, a ballot measure that would have raised the state’s 84-cent tax on a pack of cigarettes by an additional $1.75, to $2.59 per pack. The amendment to the state constitution would have set aside 27% of revenue for tobacco-related research into cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, behavioral health, maternal health, and early childhood development.
Amendment 2 was projected to raise $315 million in its first year, of which 27% would have been $85.05 million.
California voters, however, approved that state’s ballot measure imposing additional taxes on cigarettes—with a portion of the proceeds going to fund basic research—and legalizing recreational use of marijuana.
California’s Proposition 56 will add $2 in state excise taxes to a pack of cigarettes, more than tripling the current 87 cents now collected per pack. The measure sailed to victory, winning by 62.9% or 5,456,864 “Yes” votes to 37.1% or 3,217,483 “No” votes.
Proposition 56 has been projected to generate between $1 billion to $1.4 billion in new taxes, according to the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office. Of that total, between $50 million and $70 million, or 5%, is to be set aside for the University of California, toward “medical research into prevention, early detection, treatments, and potential cures of all types of cancer, cardiovascular and lung disease, and other tobacco-related diseases.”
Winning more narrowly was Proposition 64, The Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act. The measure will legalize the possession, transportation, and purchase of up to 28.5 grams of marijuana for recreational use in California by adults ages 21 and older.
Prop 64 won by 56% or 4,874,636 “Yes” votes to 3,822,345 “No” votes, or 44%.
Ballot questions legalizing recreational marijuana also advanced to victory in Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada, but not in Arizona, where voters defeated a referendum to that effect. In Maine, the margin of victory for Question 1 was 53.2% to 46.8% with 98% of precincts reporting, according to unofficial results. Massachusetts voters approved Question 4 by 53.6% to 46.4% with 96% of precincts reporting, while in Nevada, Question 2 won by 54.5% to 45.5% with all precincts reporting, both according to unofficial results.
Voters in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota approved measures that will allow medical marijuana, by margins of 53.2%, 71.3%, and 63.7%, respectively. Those unofficial results were based on 98%, 99%, and 100% of precincts reporting, respectively.