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Drug company stocks really liked Friday’s Trump speech on drug prices

Another “populist” promise broken.

President Trump Announces Military Action Against Syria During Address To The Nation Mike Theiler (Pool)/Getty Images

As a candidate and then later as president-elect, Donald Trump repeatedly promised to crack down on prescription drug prices by adopting policies that liberals have long urged — like allowing Medicare to negotiate bulk discounts for its purchases.

While he used to accuse the prescription drug industry of “getting away with murder,” as president, he’s appointed industry-friendly people to key jobs and walked away from these promises. And it showed in the stock market reaction to Friday’s White House plan on prescription drug prices. The S&P Pharmaceuticals index was up more than 2 percent on the day, with a particular spike in the mid-afternoon after Trump spoke.

Of course the market reaction, though positive, was also fairly modest.

By this point, there is nothing especially surprising about the fact that Trump has abandoned his campaign commitments in favor of an industry-friendly approach. But it is striking nonetheless, especially since other controversial Trump moves like pulling out of the nuclear agreement with Iran or canceling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are frequently described as Trump trying to keep campaign promises.

The president is very selective about which promises he keeps, with the “economic populist” ones seemingly always the ones to end up on the cutting room floor.