Former pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin is running as a Republican for the Senate in New Jersey. However, new documents could hinder his Senate chances. The documents revealed that in 2017, Hugin raised the price of the cancer drug Revlimid in the U.S. by 20 percent while simultaneously cutting its price by 46 percent in Russia.
The disparity in the price of Revlimid took place during Hugin’s final year as the executive chairman of Celgene Corp. In less than a year, the price of Revlimid rose from $15,483 in August of 2016 to $18,546 in October of 2017 in the U.S.
Also under Huglin’s executive power, Ceglene spent a record amount of money in an attempt to defeat new legislation that would have helped generic companies obtain drug samples. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Revlimid is one of the top drugs that generic companies request samples from. The head of Patients for Affordable Drugs David Mitchell said, “Celgene is able to continue raising prices because it has managed to keep a generic off-market here and other countries negotiate more aggressively with these drug companies than we do.”
In May, Trump vowed to fight against high drug prices in the U.S., even though Celgene helped fund Trump’s 2016 campaign—awkward. Trump even invited Pam Holt, a woman from Indiana who claimed she had to refinance her house before she could afford Revlimid, to the White House for his announcement.
However, experts say Hugin’s actions “aren’t unusual” and the Celgene spokesman Greg Geissman said, “Actions like these are a regular occurrence in many countries outside of the United States where the health authorities assess overall health care spending, including medicines, and impose price actions on the manufacturers.” However, Hugin’s actions as a Celgene executive provided his Democratic opponent and Senate incumbent Robert Menendez with a new attack plan.
Menendez’s spokesman Steven Sandberg said:
It’s clear that Bob Hugin is more than happy to rip off American cancer patients to line his own pockets, but when he gets a little pressure from Vladimir Putin, like Donald Trump, he caves. If he can cut the price in Russia, then he can cut the price here at home. He just won’t.
Hugin’s campaign spokeswoman Megan Piwowar responded, “Putin is a thug. Menendez is a crook and a liar. And any attempt to link Marine Corps veteran Bob Hugin to Vladimir Putin doesn’t even merit a response.” This answer sounds vaguely similar to one from another man involved with a Russia scandal:
Hugin’s odds of beating Menendez in the 2018 midterms are somehow pretty good, because nothing matters anymore. In November of 2017, a judge ruled Menendez’s federal corruption trial a mistrial. Menendez immediately began campaigning for the 2018 midterms with the trial still looming over his head. He barely beat his Democratic opponent, Lisa McCormick, when she took 40 points in the primary, despite having little name recognition or funding. Hugin jumped into his campaign with $15 million worth of funding from his own pocket and began attacking Menendez with negative ads. However, the new documents on Hugin’s history as a pharmaceutical executive could ease Democrats’ worries about losing the Senate seat for the blue state of New Jersey.