Celgene Exec May be a Dark Horse Candidate for Donald Trump's Secretary of Health and Human Services

Celgene Exec May be a Dark Horse Candidate for Donald Trump's Secretary of Health and Human Services November 10, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

WASHINGTON – In July Rich Bagger, executive vice president of corporate affairs and market access at Celgene  and a long-time Republican political operative, took a leave of absence to helm the transition team of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Bagger’s time away from the company could be extended, as he is on the list for a potential cabinet-level position in the Trump administration.

This morning, Politico provided a list of potential cabinet level appointments by President-elect Trump and Bagger’s name made the list as a potential Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Bagger is not included in the first-round choices in Politico’s list, but is called a long-shot. Politico cited Bagger’s extensive experience in the pharma industry, as well as the fact that during the last months of the campaign he “led, behind closed doors, many of the meetings this fall with health care industry donors and executives.”

Bagger is no stranger to navigating the ins-and-outs of the political world. Most recently, he served as chief of staff for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is also part of the Trump team. Prior to his tenure as governor’s right hand, he served one year as a New Jersey state senator and more than a decade as a member of the New Jersey General Assembly, the lower house of the state legislature. Bagger also served as the mayor of Westfield, N.J. and had a brief stint in Washington, D.C. as a staff member of the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Aging.

In addition to his leadership position at Celgene, Bagger also has an extensive history in the life sciences industry, spending 16 years at Pfizer in various roles, including a senior vice president, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Bagger is not the only high-profile executive at Celgene to support Republican causes. Endpoints said Bob Hugin, the company’s executive chairman, has been a long-time GOP supporter, fundraiser and delegate. Endpoints noted that Hugin contributed $250,000 to America Leads, a political action committee that backed Christie’s primary presidential campaign attempt.

Shares of Celgene, much like other pharmaceutical stocks, surged Wednesday following the election. Celgene’s stock jumped more than $12 per share on Wednesday to close at $120.40 per share. The stock is continuing to perform well in pre-market trading, up about 2.07 percent.

Pharma investors seemed relieved that a Trump presidency was less-likely to cap prescription drug prices, like Hillary Clinton had suggested, which bolstered spending. Also, there is the question of billions of dollars that many companies have kept in offshore accounts. Trump’s presidency may relax tax rules that would allow those companies to bring the money into the U.S. and use them for M&A practices. That investor relief may be short-lived though as a GOP-led Congress begins looking at dismantling the Affordable Care Act, which has provided insurance for millions of Americans. If that is repealed without a replacement program, that would likely have a negative impact on the number of prescriptions filled, which would impact the bottom-line of pharma companies.

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