Pharmaceutical company stocks plunge after verified impostor’s Twitter account claims ‘insulin is free’


An Eli Lilly pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in New Jersey (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Elon Muskit’s new “Twitter Blue” option to pay $8 for verification already wreaking havoc after a fake tweet from a ‘verified’ account claiming to be a pharmaceutical company Eli Lily caused its share price to fall.

Shares of the company fell 2.2% on Friday after a verified Twitter account impersonating the company tweeted: “We are delighted to announce insulin is free now.”

Eli Lily is one of the world’s top three insulin producers. Along with Novo Nordisk and Sanofi, the three companies supply all of the insulin – a life-saving drug – in the United States.

The fake account posted the tweet around 1:30 p.m., according to Investor’s Business Daily, and it stayed online for several hours. Meanwhile, the post has been liked thousands of times and retweeted hundreds of times.

Eventually, Twitter removed account verification and its tweets were set to private. The company has issued an apology to those who were duped by the fake tweet.

“We apologize to those who received a misleading message from a fake Lilly account,” the company tweeted from its official account.

The fake tweet didn’t just hurt Eli Lilly’s stock price; Novo Nordisk and Sanofi also took a hit resulting from the tweet.

Shares of Novo Nordisk fell 3.2% and those of Sanofi 4%, according to the outlet.

Insulin prices have been a frequent topic of debate, even at the congressional level, because without it, some diabetics would die. In Eli Lilly’s third quarter alone, the company posted revenue of $878 million.

Democrats tried to cap insulin doses at $35 as part of the Cut Inflation Act, but Republican lawmakers canceled the measureeven as a man in Minnesota was found dead because he could no longer afford the life-saving drug.

For Mr. Musk’s critics, the incident highlights the problem with Twitter’s new paid verification offering. While verification is beyond doubt become a kind of status symbol on the social media platform, its intention was to provide users with a way to know if what they were reading was from an official account.

“Did Twitter Blue just cost Eli Lilly billions? Yes,” user Rafael Shimunov wrote in a tweet.

Another account using Esther C’s name, MD MPH, highlighted the company’s stock price and concluded that it was “the power of $8”.

This has led some, like journalists Casey Johnston and Jason Schreier, to question whether advertisers will stick with the site when the offensive parody of a verified account is only $8.

Since rolling out the new system, the site has been plagued by impostor accounts with verified badges displaying outlandish content. In a widely shared tweet, a verified account claiming to be Nintendo of America shared a photo of the company’s flagship character, Mario, giving users the middle finger.

Other accounts have impersonated celebrities and politicians, many of them parodying Mr Musk.

The Independent has reached out to Eli Lilly and Twitter for comment.


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