Drug prices seem to be getting more expensive for American consumers, while some are getting cheaper overseas, including in Russia. It’s an issue that will likely be a big part of a U.S. Senate campaign this fall in New Jersey.
Bob Hugin, a former company executive for a drug company called Celgene Corp., is a Republican running for senator in New Jersey, against incumbent Democrat Sen. Robert Menendez. Hugin, a Marine veteran, is trying to downplay news that Celgene raised prices for Medicare Part D recipients who were prescribed one of their products.
Revlimid is a cancer medication that has seen its prices go up by thousands of dollars over the past few years. Over the last year alone, the drug’s costs have skyrocketed by 20 percent.
A 21-tablet supply of Revlimid costs $14,529. But in Russia, the drug costs less than a third of that amount, with the same supply amount costing $4,175. Patients in that country using that drug saw a 45 percent decrease in its costs from year-to-year.
The drop in prices in Russia, coupled with the rise in prices in America, is an issue the Menendez campaign hopes to capitalize on.
“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 [President] Donald Trump, he caves,” Menendez campaign spokesman Steven Sandberg said. “If he can cut the price in Russia, then he can cut the price here at home. He just won't.”
Hugin’s campaign is trying to fight back against those allegations, stating unequivocally that “Putin is a thug” in response to Sandberg’s statement. But even Trump himself has attacked these types of price hikes, lashing out at Celgene’s and other pharmaceutical companies’ actions in raising drug prices.
Trump’s complaints and his solutions won’t do much to help the average patient, however, and if Hugin is elected to the Senate, Big Pharma is likely to have one more Republican in that legislative chamber siding with them. New Jersey voters must carefully weigh their options as they consider whether they want to vote for Menendez again or send a former drug executive to take his place representing them.
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