Twitter trolls, Musk's changes tank stocks for Lilly, other insulin makers

A tweet from an account impersonating Eli Lilly and Company.

Elon Musk's Twitter takeover has been nothing if not tumultuous, and that tumult hit home for pharma Thursday, when an account impersonating Eli Lilly and Company - taking advantage of lax oversight in the new Twitter Blue program - tweeted, "We are excited to announce insulin is free now".

Insulin is, of course, not free, especially in the United States where a vial of Humalog, Lilly's insulin product, can cost upwards of $300 and competing products from Sanofi and Novo Nordisk are priced similarly.

Twitter's coveted blue check mark was previously given out by the social network for free to high-profile companies and individuals as an assurance of their authenticity. In a bid to raise revenue for the social media giant, new CEO Musk introduced Twitter Blue earlier this week, a service that allows users to purchase a very similar blue checkmark for $7.99 a month.

Almost immediately, Twitter trolls and pranksters began using the new service to impersonate brands and individuals. The imposter account, @EliLillyandCo, has now been suspended and the tweet deleted. Lilly's official account tweeted, "We apologize to those who have been served a misleading message from a fake Lilly account. Our official Twitter account is @LillyPad."

Due to this incident and others like it, Twitter has now paused the rollout of the Twitter Blue program.

But none of that stopped the stock market from responding to the bogus announcement with very real movement -- Lilly's stock dropped $42 (11.4%) at its lowest point and has still not recovered. Sanofi and Novo Nordisk saw similarly dramatic drops.

In addition to the financial hit, the stunt has only served to draw attention to Lilly's role in the insulin pricing crisis in the United States, where multiple patients have died because of rationing unaffordable insulin.

For its part, Lilly has, in addition to issuing its apology, pinned a tweet from March linking to the Lilly Diabetes Solutions Center, a program that allows people with no insurance or poor insurance to access insulin for $35 per month.