Dr. Rikin ‘Rik’ Mehta, who is running for the U.S. Senate in New Jersey in 2020 on a Republic ticket, challenging Democratic incumbent Cory Booker, has called drug labels to include their country of origin. The Houston-born, New Jersey raised Mehta is a pharmacist and lawyer. The 42-year-old lives in Chester Township in Morris County.
In a press release, Mehta said his ‘Made in America’ medicines campaign will require companies to disclose the country of origin of their prescription drugs. “Americans have a right to know where their medicine comes from, especially when nearly all other products are labeled with the country it was made in,” he said. “Americans have a right to know whether their medicine was ‘Made in America’ or ‘Made in China’ and should be labeled as such.”
Currently, the FDA does not require a drug’s label to include the country where the ingredients originated from to make the drug. “Take a look in your own medicine cabinet and you won’t find a ‘Made in’ label on your bottle. I know because I’m a pharmacist and I can’t find this information easily,” said Mehta.
Mehta announced his intent to run for the U.S. Senate in October last year.
“For too long our state has been failed by socialist politicos like Cory (Booker), who continue to build their careers off the backs of our proud immigrant communities — while real New Jerseyans continue to struggle,” Mehta told India Abroad at the time. “No more. I spent my life fighting for communities and that’s what I’ll do in Washington,” he said.
A political neophyte, Mehta’s professional career has straddled both the public and the private sectors. Till recently, he was vice president at Aquestive Therapeutics. He is also a co-founder and sits on the board of two small businesses — Licentiam, Inc., a regulatory technology firm, and Lactiga Therapeutics, a biologics firm developing novel treatments targeting rare immunodeficiencies.
Earlier, Mehta worked at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), developing policies to expedite and increase access to quality, affordable medicines while fighting counterfeit and black-market drugs with the World Health Organization.
Mehta started his career in New Jersey as a drug store pharmacist and later at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, before becoming an expert in drug law and regulatory policy. He is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. where he teaches health law and global drug law and regulation.
His wife Reema, is also a former FDA official and currently serves as Pfizer’s Head of Global Risk Management and Safety Surveillance Research, and is also a representative on an FDA Advisory Committee.
Mehta received his B.S. in pharmacy from Rutgers University, his Pharm.D. from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, his J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law and a Master of Laws in Global Health Law and International Institutions through a joint program with Georgetown University Law Center and the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland.
Also challenging Booker is Hirsh Vardhan Singh, a New Jersey Institute of Technology graduate and Atlantic City native. The Newark Patch reported that Singh, 34, has support from the Montclair Republican Club and Somerset County Republican State Committeewoman Janice Fields.
Singh has also been a proponent of making New Jersey a “2nd Amendment sanctuary,” the Patch report said.
In 2017, Singh made a gubernatorial bid, claiming to have raised $900,000 that would have qualified him for the GOP primary debates, but the New Jersey Election Enforcement Commission (ELEC) refused to permit him to participate, saying it had no records of his fund-raising.
In 2018, he wanted to challenge Sen. Bob Menendez but opted instead to run for Congress in the 2nd District, but lost in the primary where he was pilloried with one opponent questioning loans Singh took out to finance his campaign.