Hugin’s drug company pays $280M to settle charges it put ‘patients at risk’ to ‘boost sales’
Harrison, NJ – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today visited a local doctor’s office in Harrison to detail how greedy drug company CEO Bob Hugin put cancer patients at risk for potentially fatal side-effects when his company allegedly lied to physicians and marketed their dangerous drugs off-label for purposes not approved by the FDA. According to a federal lawsuit Hugin settled for $280 million, Celgene’s drugs Thalomid and Revlimid exposed patients to “risks of potentially fatal blood clots, potentially fatal skin conditions, severe nerve damage…and potentially fatal hemorrhages.” The 28-count federal complaint specifically claimed that Bob Hugin and his drug company “put patients at risk” to “boost sales.”
“Bob Hugin knows his greedy and despicable behavior at Celgene was indefensible—so much so that he decided not to defend it in court,”said Sen. Menendez. “Bob Hugin’s get-rich quick schemes at Celgene hurt real people, and consumers and taxpayers continue to pay the price today with rising co-pays, higher premiums, and increased costs on Medicare, Medicaid and the VA’s health system. The last thing we need is a greedy, drug company CEO like Bob Hugin who callously preyed on the sick and suffering going to Washington to further stack the deck in favor of wealthy special interests. New Jerseyans understand what’s at stake in this election and that it has never mattered more.”
Hugin and Celgene defrauded Medicare, promoted two of its most successful drugs off-label for uses not approved by the FDA, misled doctors and patients about the drugs’ effectiveness and side-effects, and orchestrated a kickback scheme in which physicians were paid to prescribe the drugs, according to the federal whistleblower lawsuit initiated by a senior member of Celgene’s sales team and brought by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, 28 states—including New Jersey—and the District of Columbia.
“As a consequence of Defendant’s wrongdoing, patients were placed at significant risk of physical and financial harm,” the lawsuit stated. “Through illegal marketing activities…Celgene exponentially expanded the markets for Thalomid and Revlimid, which dramatically increased the Company’s revenues at the expense of federal, state, and city governments.”
After five years dragging through the courts, Celgene agreed to pay $280 million to avoid trial only after Bob Hugin gave a videotaped, sworn deposition, and then had the record sealed.
As the head of Celgene, Hugin arbitrarily hiked the price of the pharmaceutical giant’s most successful cancer drug three times in one year, while simultaneously giving cancer patients in Russia a 45% discount on the same drug. During the same period, Hugin personally made $48 million over his last 15 months at Celgene. In defending his pricing decisions, Hugin admitted to price gouging American cancer patients, telling the Press of AC, “… if [a drug] becomes more effective and more valuable, then more value should be accrued to the drug.”
The Trump FDA has also cited Celgene, during Hugin’s reign, as the #1 offender in blocking the manufacturing of lower-cost generics, manipulating the market and artificially increasing demand for their drug. Hugin and Celgene also spent millions lobbying Congress to torpedo legislation that would have made it easier for generics to come to market, giving patients lower-cost alternatives to Celgene’s high-priced drugs.