It's Confirmed: Celgene's Former CEO and Chairman is Making a Run for the Senate


Two weeks after Celgene’s board chairman Bob Hugin stepped down from his seat, the pharma exec has announced his run for U.S. Senate.  Hugin, who also served as chief executive officer from 2010 to 2016, will seek the New Jersey Republican nomination.

Hugin announced his campaign on Monday, CNBC reported. Hugin has long played a key role in New Jersey Republican politics. He has financially backed Gov. Chris Christie and has served on the governor’s financial leadership team in his failed run for the GOP presidential nomination. Hugin has been an avid supporter of President Donald Trump, despite the president’s criticisms of the industry. Hugin served as a Republican delegate for the New Jersey at the Republican National Convention that nominated Trump.

The former Celgene executive is expected to make his official announcement today. He will face off against Republican Richard Pezzullo in the June 5 primary, CNBC reported. If he wins the primary, he will then face incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez in the general election. If Hugin gets over his first hurdle of the primary, Stat News said the general election will not be an easy one. New Jersey has not sent a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972.

Not only will Hugin face difficulties as a first-time candidate, but assuming he wins the primary, the election could become a referendum on prescription drug prices, Stat News said. Citing John Weingart, the associate director of Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics, Stat News said some of Celgene’s past moves could prove to be fodder for controversy.

“I assume there will be large parts of what he’s done in the past that he’s very proud of and will want to tout. And then there are the parts that he’ll want people to ignore,” Weingart told Stat.

One of those key concerns could be prescription prices. Stat noted that unlike many other companies that have taken pains to limit price increases, Celgene has not done so. Stat pointed to Celgene’s lead blood cancer drug Revlimid. During the first 10 months of 2017, the company increased the price three times.

Another obstacle that Hugin could face is his relationship with President Trump. In blue New Jersey, the president garnered less than 50 percent of the vote in the 2016 election. Democrat Hilary Clinton picked up 55.5 percent, while Trump mustered 41 percent of the vote. While Trump lost the state, he was the overwhelming favorite in the Republican primary. That could put Hugin at odds with many New Jersey Republican voters. Stat said Celgene’s actions have not always “adhered to President Trump’s ‘America First’ mantra.  The company has significant overseas manufacturing and has also kept billions of dollars offshore to avoid high corporate taxes. Some of that has no doubt been repatriated since the tax plan was overhauled

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