For Biotech ETFs, It's All About U.S. Presidential Politics

Simply put, the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (NasdaqGS: IBB), which tracks the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, and rival biotechnology exchange traded funds have been hampered by presidential politics this year, a theme that may not evaporate until after Election Day.

IBB, the largest biotech ETF by assets, is heavily allocated to the largest biotech names. For example, Amgen (NasdaqGS: AMGN), Gilead Sciences (NasdaqGS: GILD) and Celgene (NasdaqGS: CELG) combine for about a quarter of IBB’s weight.

Investors who are closely watching the presidential race will want to keep an eye on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the coming months. If Clinton makes her way to the Oval Office and implements more regulation on pharmaceutical drug pricing, biotech companies may underperform the broader market.

SEE MORE: BBP – An Outperforming Biotechnology ETF

Last week, Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, put the spotlight on Mylan (NasdaqGS: MYL) EpiPen prices, triggering a selloff in biotech exchange traded funds and reminding investors of political risks in an election season.

“The IBB may be vulnerable here to the various vagaries of the US presidential race. My suspicion is as we head down the home stretch, drug costs may become an issue once more. However, once the populace makes the final decision culminating with the election of a new president, the issue will fall off the proverbial radar once again,” according to a Seeking Alpha analysis of IBB.


Clinton’s Mylan commentary was the third time over the past year that Clinton’s comments upended drug stocks. The presidential runner has repeatedly censured aggressive drug pricing. With most polls giving her a wide margin over Republican nominee Donald Trump, the markets are taking Clinton’s words more seriously.