COVID-19, the Stock Market, and Dermatology

February 12, 2021
SecondDraw PPP Loans What Dermatologists Should Know image

By Amylee Martin, BS, Akshitha Thatiparthi, BS, Jeffrey Liu, BS, Jashin J. Wu, MD

Novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is not only a major public health threat but has also impacted the economy. Due to the pandemic, experts predict a 0.5% decrease in the global gross domestic product growth during 2020.1 In an effort to decrease transmission, many countries closed/restricted business functions.1 Although many businesses had a decrease in market growth, some industries such as online merchants and healthcare companies have been relatively unaffected by the pandemic.2 At present, it is unknown how dermatology pharmaceutical companies have performed financially amid the pandemic. The purpose of this study was to determine the stock price impact of COVID-19 on pharmaceutical companies producing and developing both dermatology products and COVID-19 treatments.

We performed an UpToDate Search on “COVID-19 Treatments” to find off-label and Emergency Use Authorization drugs which have been used to treat COVID-19 patients.3 These drugs include remdesivir, dexamethasone, convalescent plasma, tocilizumab, sarilumab, hydroxychloroquine, and chloroquine phosphate.3 Excluding convalescent plasma, we identified the pharmaceutical companies producing each of these medications using the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) drug approval database.4 Additionally, we included companies partnering with NIH to develop COVID-19 treatments/vaccine.5 Each pharmaceutical company website was checked to determine active production of dermatology products. From this list, we used MarketWatch to select the companies with the highest market capitalization (cap) on 7/9/2020 and 7/10/2020.6 These companies include Sanofi, Roche, AbbVie, Eli Lilly, Amgen, Johnson and Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, and Pfizer. 

We used MarketWatch to obtain the closing stock and S&P 500 index prices on 1/2/2019, 6/28/2019, 1/2/2020, and 6/30/2020.6 The percent change in stock and S&P 500 index closing prices for 2019 and 2020 were calculated by dividing the difference between the two stock prices/indices by the stock price/index on 1/2/2019 and 1/2/2020, respectively. A paired two tailed t-test was calculated to determine if there was a significant difference between the percent change in stock prices between January to June 2019 compared to 2020. 

The S&P 500 index closing price increased by 17.2 % from January to June 2019 but decreased by -4.84% from January to June 2020 (Table 1). The average percent change in these 10 stock prices from January to June 2020 was -0.95%, while the average percent change for 2019 was 1.31%. From January to June 2020, Sanofi (0.73%), Roche (6.09%), AbbVie (9.64%), and Eli Lilly (24.18%) experienced an increase in stock prices with a mean percent increase of 10.16%. Amgen (-1.77%), Johnson and Johnson (-3.66%), Bristol Myers Squibb (-7.17%), Novartis 

(-8.01%), GlaxoSmithKline (-13.06%), and Pfizer (-16.45%) had a decrease in stock prices with a mean percent decrease of -8.35% (Table 2). There was not a statistically significant difference between the percent change in stock prices from January to June 2020 compared to January to June 2019 (p=0.72).

The decrease in the S&P 500 index closing price from January to June 2020 suggests a decline in overall market performance during the COVID-19 pandemic.7 This finding was expected, as global crises influence investors to save capital and decrease investments.2  Despite the vulnerability of the global economy, the 10 dermatology pharmaceutical companies involved in COVID-19 drug production/development, with the highest market capitalization, appear to be relatively unaffected. This may be due to their role in development of a COVID-19 vaccination or their production of essential drugs. Of note, the results of our study are limited by the short observation period and small sample size. 

Dr. Wu is or has been an investigator, consultant, or speaker for AbbVie, Almirall, Amgen, Arcutis, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Dermavant, Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, Eli Lilly, Galderma, Janssen, LEO Pharma, Novartis, Regeneron, Sanofi Genzyme, Sun Pharmaceutical, UCB, Valeant Pharmaceuticals North America LLC.

Amylee Martin, BS, School of Medicine, University of California, Riverside, CA.

Akshitha Thatiparthi, BS, College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA.

Jeffrey Liu, BS, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Jashin J. Wu, MD, Dermatology Research and Education Foundation, Irvine, CA.

1. Gupta M, Abdelmaksoud A, Jafferany M, Lotti T, Sadoughifar R, Goldust M. COVID-19 and economy. Dermatol Ther. 2020:e13329. doi:10.1111/dth.13329

2.  Donthu N, Gustafsson A. Effects of COVID-19 on business and research. J Bus Res. 2020;117:284-289. doi:10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.06.008

3. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): Management in hospitalized adults - UpToDate. 19 management&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~150&usage_type=default&display_rank=1. Accessed July 24, 2020.

4.  Drugs@FDA: FDA-Approved Drugs. Accessed July 24, 2020.

5.   NIH to launch public-private partnership to speed COVID-19 vaccine and treatment options | National Institutes of Health (NIH). Accessed July 24, 2020.

6.   MarketWatch: Stock Market News - Financial News - MarketWatch. Accessed October 23, 2020.

7.  Shankar SG, Miller JM, Balakrishnan PV (Sundar). Evolutionary disruption of S&P 500 trading concentration: An intriguing tale of a financial innovation. PLoS One. 2020;15(3):e0230393. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0230393

Table 1. S&P 500 Index Closing Prices Winter and Spring 2019/2020


Closing Price (USD)

D CP † from 2019 to 2020 (%)











Percent Change in Closing Stock Price

Table 2. Stock Prices for Pharmaceutical Companies Manufacturing Dermatology/COVID-19 Drugs


Market Cap (Billion USD)



1/2/20 (USD)




DCSP‡  2020(%)


1/2/19 (USD)



DCSP‡  2019(%)




$ 51.05








$ 43.38








$ 98.18





Eli Lilly
















Johnson and Johnson








Bristol Myers Squibb
































Closing Stock Price

‡ Percent Change in Closing Stock Price

Facebook Comments


We’re glad to see you’re enjoying PracticalDermatology…
but how about a more personalized experience?

Register for free