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Therese Ball. (Photo: Patients for Affordable Drugs Action.)

Group that boosted Menendez re-election now spending to lobby him

By David Wildstein, July 06 2021 10:43 am

A grassroots organization that spent $3.5 million to help re-elect U.S. Senator Bob Menendez in 2018 has launched a six-figure campaign to convince him to support lower prescription drug prices.

Patients For Affordable Drugs Now played a pivotal role in Menendez’s last campaign after airing hard-hitting TV ads crushing Republican candidate Bob Hugin for his role in tripling the price of a life-saving cancer drug, Revlimid, while serving as the chairman and CEO of New Jersey-based Celgene, a pharmaceutical company.

“In the last year, 2 million New Jersey families could not pay for medicine or drugs prescribed by their doctor,” said David Mitchell, a cancer patient and the organization’s founder “New Jerseyans are depending on Senator Menendez to help by ensuring Medicare can negotiate lower drug prices and that the savings go towards reducing costs for patients and consumers.”

The group is airing TV and digital ads aimed at convincing Menendez to side with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden on a plan to reduce pharmaceutical costs and allow Medicare to negotiate prices.

The ad features Therese Ball, an Indiana nurse and multiple sclerosis patient.

Script: “As a nurse, I had patients who struggled to pay for their prescription drugs. When I was diagnosed with MS, I became one, too. The medications I need to live are priced at over $7,000 every month,” Ball, a grandmother and retired nurse, says in the video ad. “I can’t afford these prices. I had to ration and skip doses. Congress is working to let Medicare negotiate lower drug prices. Ninety percent of Americans support it, and Senator Menendez should, too.  Patients need this reform, and we need his support.”

“As the Senate Finance Committee develops detailed legislative proposals, we need Senator Menendez to lead on drug pricing reform that will deliver the innovation patients need at prices we can afford,” Mitchell said.  “We can have both.”

Hugin spent $36 million of his own money on his Senate campaign and the independent expenditure by Patients For Affordable Drugs helped define Hugin during the summer of 2018 at a time when Menendez was holding back spending until after Labor Day.

Menendez is not up for re-election until 2024.  Hugin is the newly-elected New Jersey Republican State Chairman.

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