Chris Christie Quiet About Pharma Lobbying History

Former New Jersey Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie turned to the revolving door and became a registered lobbyist after leaving public service. It’s a past you won’t hear Christie reminding voters about.

As a presidential candidate Christie has attempted to set himself apart by being a boisterous contender, often portraying himself as someone who tells the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. However, when discussing health care, he often neglects to disclose his past work lobbying for the pharmaceutical industry.

As recently as this month, he failed to disclose that work in an interview with CNBC, saying in an interview:

Well, how about if the politicians really dealt with what are the cost drivers in this system? Right. You do not hear any politician come on here and talk about the PBMs, the pharmacy benefit managers. They are taking from anywhere from 50% to 70% of the rebates that pharmaceutical companies mean to go to the customer and they’re taking them purely to be middlemen. It’s not sexy.

In the interview, he said that he helped lower healthcare costs by taking on pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs):

And that’s what I mean. Look, you can’t just do it that way. And nobody in the political world has wanted to take on the PBMs. Nobody wanted to do it. And we did it in New Jersey. We’re the first state that went on doing a reverse auction for those managers. We cut our costs, Becky, just for state workers, $500 million a year by doing a reverse auction. If the government started to get involved in making sure that everybody in the system was treated fairly, we could reduce those prices without price fixing that would lead to a reduction in innovation.

When Christie announced his presidential campaign, he blamed PBMs for the rising cost of health care:

There is a real evil agent in all this, and those are the pharmacy benefit managers. Now, some people know who these people are. Some people don’t, but they are the middlemen between the pharmaceutical industry and your local pharmacy, whether it’s a local family-owned pharmacy or a CVS or a Walgreens or whatever it is. And the pharmaceutical industry gives hundreds of millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars every year in discounts off of their drugs. Guess who keeps most of the discounts? The pharmacy benefit managers. They keep most of the discounts and pass this much on to you. And they are making a fortune for literally doing nothing. The pharmaceutical companies invent the drugs, the doctors prescribe the drugs, and these people in the middle are just pushing paper and moving medicine and they’re making billions.
Look at some of those stocks, like Cardinal Health and others who make a fortune. We need to have some common sense reform of that, because for middle men to be keeping the majority of those discounts that the pharmaceutical companies give to try to decrease the rate that you pay at the counter is just wrong.

“So those are two ideas that I have on the advertising side and pharmacy benefit managers that could bring those prices down,” the New Jersey governor added, “while not destroying the ingenuity and the inventiveness of the American pharmaceutical industry, which are changing lives every day and saving lives every day. So we’ve got to find that balance.”

“Voters have seen firsthand at town halls that Governor Christie doesn’t pull any punches including with the pharmaceutical industry,” a Christie campaign spokesperson told Breitbart News. “No matter the topic, he will tell the truth, and voters will continue to see that throughout this campaign.”

After Christie wrapped up his second term as governor of the Garden State he said he wanted to set out to “have fun and I want to make money.” Like many other former politicians, he started a federal lobbying and consulting firm called Christie 55 Solutions.

And he was by some accounts successful at it. Then-President Donald Trump tapped Christie to lead the President’s Commission on Opioids. Christie brought in David Stack, the CEO of Pacira Biosciences, to which Stack pressed for a change in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement policies, arguing that the programs created incentives for doctors to prescribe opioids instead of non-addictive painkillers. The recommendation was then implemented by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The change in policy benefitted one drug, Exparel, which was made by Pacira. The same year, Pacira paid $481,000 to Christie 55 Solutions for consulting work. The year after, Pacira put Christie on its board and paid his firm $320,000. As of June 2022, Christie owned 3,486 shares of Pacira Biosciences, which are worth $207,034.

In April 2023, Christie joined the advisory board of Cytogel Pharma.

For years, Christie has also written op-eds that have attacked pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). In 2020, he wrote a piece for the Concord Monitor; in 2021, he wrote an op-ed for the Columbus Dispatch, and in 2022 he wrote an opinion piece for the Austin American-Statesman.  There is nothing wrong with that.

But, Christie did not disclose that, at the time he wrote the Dispatch op-ed, he was actively lobbying on behalf of pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk.

Moreover, Rich Bagger, Christie’s former chief of staff, worked in-house for a major pharmaceutical company prior to his experience with the Governor, and at Christie 55 Solutions afterwards.

Sean Moran is a policy reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.

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