What the Top 10 Biopharma CEOs Are Making

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Surging financial markets generated stratospheric stock awards for most of the 10 highest-compensated biopharma CEOs during 2017. [Thanakorn Phanthura / EyeEm / Getty Images]

Alex Philippidis Senior News Editor Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Surging Markets Drive Double- and Triple-Digit Percentage Gains for Compensation

The old saying “a rising tide lifts all boats,” famously borrowed in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, certainly applied last year to the total compensation of biopharma CEOs, as surging financial markets generated stratospheric stock awards that elevated what executives at the top received during 2017.

That proved especially true for the executive who ranks number-one on this year’s version of a list GEN has published on and off over the past six years. His total 2017 compensation consisted heavily of stock awards—$44.484 million worth, to be exact, accounting for more than three-fourths (78%) of his pay of nearly $56.9 million.

That level of compensation is more than double what the top CEO received the first time GEN published this list in 2012. Johnson & Johnson’s then-chairman/CEO William C. Weldon topped that year’s list with total 2011 compensation of $26,797,939.

Weldon’s level of compensation would only be high enough to rank number-six on this year’s version of the list, which is ranked on 2017 compensation—and includes Weldon’s successor, one of five CEOs whose compensation rose by double digits year-over-year. Of the other five, two saw triple-digit leaps in total compensation, two others saw year-over-year declines, and a comparison could not be made for the fifth because he was not a named executive officer of his company in 2016.

Also notable: Nine of this year’s top 10 compensated biopharma CEOs are men. The second highest-compensated biopharma CEO who is a woman was ranked No. 22: Mylan CEO Heather Bresch, who finished last year with $12,744,397, down 7.5% from $13,777,120 in 2016.

Following is a ranking of biopharma CEOs by their total 2017 compensation as disclosed in company proxy statements. Each CEO is listed by name, title, company, 2017 and 2016 total compensation, and percent change between the two years. All non-U.S. currencies have been converted to U.S. dollars.

The list includes CEOs of drug developers and tool/tech companies, both traditional areas of coverage for GEN. But biopharma’s growing focus on healthcare data explains why one CEO who was not listed arguably could be considered the second highest-compensated chief executive.

Ari Bousbib, the chairman, CEO, and president of IQVIA—the healthcare data giant formed in 2016 by the merger of IMS Health and Quintiles—finished last year with total compensation of $38,029,517, a six-fold increase from the $6,639,912 he received in 2016. More than two-thirds (69%) of his total 2017 compensation of $26,391,942 came in stock awards.


#10. Kenneth Frazier

Company: Merck & Co.

Title: Chairman, President, and CEO

2017 total compensation: $17,643,087

2016 total compensation: $21,781,170

% Change: −19%


#9. Giovanni Caforio, M.D.

Company: Bristol-Myers Squibb

Title: Chairman and CEO

2017 total compensation: $18,687,123

2016 total compensation: 16,933,858

% Change: 10.4%


#8. Marc N. Casper

Company: Thermo Fisher Scientific

Title: President and CEO

2017 total compensation: $22,275,176

2016 total compensation: $17,800,661

% Change: 25.1%


#7. Richard A. Gonzalez

Company: AbbVie

Title: Chairman and CEO

2017 total compensation: $22,625,243

2016 total compensation: $20,970,924

% Change: 7.9%


#6. Leonard S. Schleifer, M.D., Ph.D.

Company: Regeneron

Title: President and CEO

2017 compensation: $26,508,058

2016 compensation: $28,337,520

% Change: −6.5%


#5. Ian C. Read

Company: Pfizer

Title: Chairman and CEO

2017 total compensation: $27,913,775

2016 total compensation: $17,321,470

% Change: 61.2%


#4. Alex Gorsky

Company: Johnson & Johnson

Title: Chairman and CEO

2017 total compensation: $29,802,564

2016 total compensation: $26,871,720

% Change: 10.9%


#3. Brenton L. (Brent) Saunders

Company: Allergan

Title: Chairman, President, and CEO

2017 total compensation: $32,827,626

2016 total compensation: $4,139,028

% Change: 693.1%


#2. Martine Rothblatt

Company: United Therapeutics

Title: Chairman and CEO

2017 total compensation: $37,133,201

2016 total compensation: $15,424,329

% Change: 140.7%


#1. Douglas Ingram

Company: Sarepta Therapeutics

Title: President and CEO

2017 total compensation: $56,866,241

2016 total compensation: N/A

% Change: N/A
































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