Super PAC spends millions to support Menendez's re-election effort

Some question why Patients for Affordable Drugs chooses to back Bob Menendez, due to his connection to Florida doctor Salomon Melgen.   File photo

An independent national patient organization has spent more than $3 million on behalf of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) in his campaign for re-election.

The super PAC, Patients for Affordable Drugs, focuses its efforts on targeting candidates with ties to "big pharma." Patients for Affordable Drugs was founded by David Mitchell, a former partner with media firm GMMB, which made presidential campaign ads for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Patients for Affordable Drugs is using GMMB and Pier 91, a subsidiary, to create ads for Menendez in the New Jersey Senate race.

Menendez has been a senator for New Jersey since 2006. He was re-elected in 2012. This election cycle he is running against Bob Hugin, who is the former president and CEO of Celgene, a biopharmaceutical company.

Some question why Patients for Affordable Drugs chooses to back Menendez, due to his connection to Florida doctor Salomon Melgen, who was convicted of Medicare fraud in the amount of $73 million. Menendez, who was accused of receiving gifts from Melgen, was "severely admonished" last year by the Senate Ethics Committee, according to Roll Call.

Melgen had reportedly given Menendez gifts and campaign contributions in exchange for political favors.

Melgen was accused of diagnosing hundred of patients with debilitating diseases when they had none. He billed Medicare an average of $23,000 per patient, according to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud (CAIF).

Melgen injected patients with expensive medicines into their eyes and billed Medicare for a total of 37,075 injections in 2012, according to CAIF. He was accused of making $136 million off of Medicare and taxpayers due to the scheme, and was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison in February.

GMMB receives the bulk of its funding from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

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