Japan pharma stocks fall; pharma aid rises

Japan's struggles following last week's earthquake and tsunami continue with an increasingly negative effect on pharma. The good news earlier this week of relatively minor damage to drug-making facilities and an essentially intact production workforce has been followed by distribution channel disruption due to power outages and lack of commuter transportation.

Japanese stocks fell during today's trading and are expected to fall further, says Reuters. Japan's pharma stocks are sinking in lockstep, due to nuclear radiation fears and an unstable yen. The news outlet says it expects Japanese investors to continue selling. But foreign investors, sensing a bargain, are providing a counterbalance, thus lessening the fall.

MarketWatch reported Wednesday that declines in U.S.-traded shares of Japan's big drugmakers made the pharma sector the sharpest decliner among large-cap issues. The NYSE's Pharmaceutical Index and Biotechnology Index both dropped.

On the plus side, pharma is contributing to recovery efforts. Takeda, Daiichi Sankyo, Astellas, Chugai Pharmaceutical, and Eisai are among Japanese companies offering money, drugs and medical supplies. Abbott and Amgen are among early non-Japanese pharmas to step up. Nukepills.com is donating 50,000 potassium iodide tablets to Tokushukai Hospital in Tokyo. 

- here's the Reuters report
- see the MarketWatch story
- here's who's helping
- here's more