Patients for Affordable Drugs Now, which spent over $3 million in New Jersey’s U.S. Senate race last year, has launched a six-figure digital video ad highlighting Rep. Andy Kim’s leadership in the fight to lower prescription drug prices.
The decision to highlight Kim’s support of legislation to cut drug prices comes days after the American Action Network (AAN), which has ties to the pharmaceutical industry, began airing ads attacking Kim.
“We want people in New Jersey to know Kim is doing the right thing,” said Ben Wakana, the group’s executive director. “He deserves help from independent patient groups that aren’t funded by pharma.”
Wakana called the AAN ads a “smear campaign” against Kim, a freshman congressman who is expected to face a tough race in New Jersey’s 3rd district next year.
Kim is a co-sponsor of a bill that would allow Medicare to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies and make those prices available to all Americans. The pharmaceutical industry has been aggressively lobbying against the bill.
Additionally, Kim has co-sponsored legislation that looks to close loopholes that block the marketing of generic drugs.
The ad campaign will be on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and across local digital media platforms, the organization said, and will seek to elevate the voices of patients “to demonstrate the human toll of high-priced drugs on New Jersey residents.”
Wakana noted that while the pharma-backed group does not disclose it’s donors, Patients for Affordable Drugs Now does. The group is largely funded by billionaire hedge fund manager John Arnold.
The organization was founded by David Mitchell, a cancer patient who took Revlimid, one of the drugs manufactured by Celgene.
The price of the life-saving drug became a defining issue in the 2018 Senate race where former Celgene CEO Bob Hugin spent $36 million in a bid to unseat U.S. Senator Bob Menendez.
“Patients for Affordable Drugs now is a respected organization that clearly understands New Jersey voters and their need for affordable prescription drugs,” said Michael Soliman, a Democratic strategist who ran Menendez’s re-election campaign.
Wakana declined to say exactly how much his group was spending in a bid to boost Kim, noting that whatever the amount is, the pharmaceutical industry will “just double it.”