One of the state’s leading advocates of affordable health care today slammed Bob Hugin for using cancer patients as pawns in his bid to win a United States Senate seat from New Jersey.
State Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge), the chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, says Hugin should release the details of cancer treatment settlements made by Celgene, a New Jersey-based drugmaker, while Hugin was CEO.
“Bob Hugin did not save people suffering from cancer – he exploited them. To see him now use the plight of cancer survivors to bankroll is campaign is offensive,” said Vitale. “The truth is Bob Hugin put profits over patients while the head of pharmaceutical giant Celgene.”
Vitale says that Hugin paid $280 million to settle whistleblower charges that his company broke federal law, defrauded taxpayers and put patients at risk regarding the marketing of its cancer drugs, Revlimid and Thalomid.
The Middlesex County Democrat said that Hugin and Celegane were accused of defrauding Medicare, marketing its drugs for uses not approved by the FDA, lying to doctors and patients about the drugs’ effectiveness and side effects, and orchestrating a kickback scheme in which Celgene paid physicians to prescribe their medications, in order to boost the company’s profits.
“Bob Hugin now seeks to reinvent himself and use the millions he made from drastically increasing the price of cancer treatments in an attempt to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate,” Vitale said. “Hugin paid $280 million to avoid trial and make his problems go away, then had the record and his videotaped deposition sealed. It begs the question: What is he hiding? And while most rational people believe no one pays $280 million if he did nothing wrong, he should come clean, answer questions and be held accountable for what he did at Celgene.”