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How to invest in Big Pharma

A shot in the arm for your portfolio (without side effects): How to invest in Big Pharma with these shares and investment trusts

By ANNE ASHWORTH FOR THE DAILY MAIL
PUBLISHED: 21:50, 13 November 2020 | UPDATED: 11:53, 14 November 2020

The breakthrough on the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech this week has cheered the nation – and the markets.

Although the feats of Big Pharma sparked a dramatic change in mood, shares in the sector did not soar.

This may seem strange because, for the first time in months, science was about to set us free rather than lock us down.

On Monday, Pfizer rose by just 8 per cent. By contrast, pandemic-battered shares like Carnival, the cruise ship operator, leapt by 39 per cent.

Big Pharma may not be popular, but its contribution to our health and that of the economy has never been more vital…

The reason to put money into these companies now is not the profits that could flow from the Pfizer vaccine or indeed jabs from other companies…

But vaccines like these are likely to be sold at cost, or at only a small profit. Pfizer did not accept US government cash to fund its research so could charge more, as may Moderna, another American name in the vaccine race…

Ben Yearsley of Shore Financial Planning likes three investment trusts: Biotech Growth; Worldwide Healthcare, whose portfolio includes Merck which is also trialling a Covid-19 vaccine, and Polar Capital Global Healthcare which invests in Roche, the Swiss group whose cancer immunotherapy treatments are causing a stir.

QuotedData, the analytics group, highlights the International Biotechnology trust whose net asset value is up 30 per cent this year. Kate Bingham, the Government’s vaccine tsar, is one of its managers. She is under fire over expenditure in this role – proving that Big Pharma always comes with controversy as a side effect.

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