Celgene Exec Out as Trump Puts Vice President Elect Leader of Transition Effort

Celgene Exec Out as Trump Puts Vice President-Elect in as Leader of Transition Effort November 14, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

WASHINGTON – Celgene executive Rich Bagger will return to the private sector. That was the message President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team told the New York Times this weekend.

Bagger’s chances, slim though they were at being named Secretary of Health and Human Services, seemed to hinge on the fortunes of his former boss, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. Christie, who at one time had been helming the Trump transitional team, was pushed out in favor of Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Christie, who became an ardent Trump supporter after he ended his own bid at the Republican presidential nomination, is dealing with some scandals in New Jersey associated with the closing of access lanes on the George Washington Bridge. Two of his former aides were recently convicted in association with the controversy. Bagger, executive vice president of corporate affairs and market access at Celgene, served as a former chief of staff for Christie.

In July, Bagger took a leave of absence to helm the transition team of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Last week, he was named as a potential dark horse candidate for the cabinet level position. 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.”

But, over the weekend the campaign nixed that long-shot and said Bagger would be returning to the private sector. This morning Celgene confirmed to BioSpace that Bagger has returned to his role as executive vice president of corporate affairs and market access at Celgene.

The Trump campaign did say that Bagger will remain an adviser to the campaign, but provided no additional information as to his role. Again, it appears likely that Bagger would provide the transition team insight into the biotech and pharma industries as the Trump administration begins to craft policies that would impact, such as possible impact of amending or repealing the Affordable Health Care Act, opening up the U.S. market to cheaper drugs manufactured in other countries.

Endpoints noted that at least one well-known Trump adviser still on the transition team is also keeping an eye on creating greater innovation opportunities for the biotech sector. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich remains as a potential cabinet choice for the Trump administration. Endpoints said this past summer Gingrich spoke to audiences at BIO in San Francisco. In his address, Gingrich discussed how there are numerous laws, regulations and bureaucratic red tape that hinders innovation in the industry.

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