Good year, bad year? Two biotech CEOs hit pay dirt in 2018 as com­pen­sa­tion pack­ages swell

By any ac­count­ing mea­sure, John Oyler had a big year last year, steer­ing BeiGene to a mon­ster $903 mil­lion Hong Kong IPO, then watch­ing the stock lan­guish as the Chi­na-based biotech put its PD-1 on a track to reg­u­la­tors. But what­ev­er short­com­ings may have been in the mix at BeiGene, they didn’t pre­vent the CEO from scor­ing one of the rich­est com­pen­sa­tion pack­ages in bio­phar­ma.

In a re­cent fil­ing with the SEC BeiGene $BGNE re­vealed that the com­pa­ny founder made off with a com­pen­sa­tion deal worth $27.9 mil­lion, a big step up from the $10.3 mil­lion he snagged in 2017 and the rel­a­tive­ly mod­est $4.6 mil­lion he got for 2016 — the year BeiGene’s first IPO hit Nas­daq. 

The big stock awards he got put him as the new num­ber 2 on our pay chart, just be­hind Kare Schultz at Te­va and just ahead of John Mil­li­gan, ex-CEO at Gilead.

Xi­aobin Wu

The big­ger pack­age at the top didn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly trans­late in­to big rais­es for the rest of the team at BeiGene. CMO for hema­tol­ogy Jane Huang nailed a pack­age that was worth $3.4 mil­lion, up from $3 mil­lion the year be­fore. About the same for CMO-I/O Amy Pe­ter­son. But Oyler’s new Chi­na man­ag­er re­cruit­ed last April, Xi­aobin Wu, bagged an im­pres­sive $21.5 mil­lion, which would fall in the mid­dle of the pack for the best paid Big Phar­ma CEOs who have re­port­ed so far.

This past year is prov­ing quite a boon for biotech CEOs, where pay can vary from one year to the next. As we re­port­ed ear­li­er this week, Nick Leschly made out hand­some­ly among the rest of the field, with a com­pen­sa­tion deal that tops out at $24 mil­lion. He made $8.7 mil­lion the year be­fore.

Fur­ther spot­light­ing the bo­nan­za trend, I see that Alk­er­mes $ALKS CEO Richard Pops, who had one of the worst years in the in­dus­try, al­so man­aged to cut a big­ger slice of the ex­ec­u­tive pay pie for 2018. Dur­ing the year, we car­ried a string of re­ports on the com­pa­ny’s big pitch for a new de­pres­sion drug, which had been bur­dened by too much bad da­ta. 

The FDA nev­er tired of shoot­ing them down, de­spite the protests.

Richard Pops

Pops, it turns out, nev­er­the­less bagged a $17 mil­lion com­pen­sa­tion pack­age, up from $9.4 mil­lion. CMO Craig Hop­kin­son picked up $3.8 mil­lion.


Top im­age: John Oyler, the founder and CEO of BeiGene, at #BI­IS18, the US-Chi­na Bio­phar­ma In­no­va­tion and In­vest­ment Sum­mit in Shang­hai on Oc­to­ber 23, 2018  End­points News, Pharm­Cube

Tar­get­ing a Po­ten­tial Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of Cer­tain Can­cers with DNA Dam­age Re­sponse

Every individual’s DNA is unique, and because of this, every patient responds differently to disease and treatment. It is astonishing how four tiny building blocks of our DNA – A, T, C, G – dictate our health, disease, and how we age.

The tricky thing about DNA is that it is constantly exposed to damage by sources such as ultraviolet light, certain chemicals, toxins, and even natural biochemical processes inside our cells.¹ If ignored, DNA damage will accumulate in replicating cells, giving rise to mutations that can lead to premature aging, cancer, and other diseases.

Roivant par­lays a $450M chunk of eq­ui­ty in biotech buy­out, grab­bing a com­pu­ta­tion­al group to dri­ve dis­cov­ery work

New Roivant CEO Matt Gline has crafted an all-equity upfront deal to buy out a Boston-based biotech that has been toiling for several years now at building a supercomputing-based computational platform to design new drugs. And he’s adding it to the Erector set of science operations that are being built up to support their network of biotech subsidiaries with an eye to growing the pipeline in a play to create a new kind of pharma company.

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Fol­low biotechs go­ing pub­lic with the End­points News IPO Track­er

The Endpoints News team is continuing to track IPO filings for 2021, and we’ve designed a new tracker page for the effort.

Check it out here: Biopharma IPOs 2021 from Endpoints News

You’ll be able to find all the biotechs that have filed and priced so far this year, sortable by quarter and listed by newest first. As of the time of publishing on Feb. 25, there have already been 16 biotechs debuting on Nasdaq so far this year, with an additional four having filed their S-1 paperwork.

With dust set­tled on ac­tivist at­tack, Lau­rence Coop­er leaves Zio­pharm to a new board

Laurence Cooper has done his part.

In the five years since he left a tenured position at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center to become CEO of Boston-based Ziopharm, he’s steered the small-cap immunotherapy player through patient deaths in trials, clinical holds, short attacks and, most recently, an activist attack on the board.

So when the company has “fantastic news” like an IND clearance for a TCR T cell therapy program, he’s ready to pass on the baton.

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Mark Mal­lon charts post-Iron­wood course by tak­ing CEO job at NeoGe­nomics; Glax­o­SmithK­line vet Feng Ren joins In­sil­i­co as CSO

Mark Mallon steps aside at Ironwood on March 12 after close to two years at the helm, and he already has a new change of scenery squared away. Beginning April 19, Mallon takes charge as CEO of cancer-focused genetic test maker NeoGenomics out of Fort Myers, FL while his predecessor, Douglas VanOort, is retiring after 12 years as NeoGenomics’ chairman and CEO.

It’s a fresh start for Mallon after what will amount to a tumultuous 23 months as Ironwood’s chief executive. Last year was marked by trial failures that spelled double trouble, leaving the Ironwood cupboard bare: first, a Linzess reformulation for irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D) in May, and then the drug IW-3718 for persistent acid reflux in September. After IW-3718’s discontinuation, Ironwood chopped its staff by 35%. On Feb. 8, Mallon announced his departure at Ironwood, with president Tom McCourt getting bumped up to interim CEO.

Covid-19 roundup: Mer­ck­'s $356M sup­ply deal on hold as FDA asks for more da­ta; FDA ap­proves Pfiz­er/BioN­Tech vac­cine stor­age at stan­dard freez­er temps

Merck is pushing back plans to supply the US government with a Covid-19 drug after the FDA asked for more data to support an emergency use authorization.

The antibody, MK-7110, had looked promising in a Phase III study conducted by OncoImmune before Merck came along and bought the biotech for $425 million. At the interim analysis, investigators looked at data from 203 patients and concluded that a single dose of the drug cut the risk of death or respiratory failure by more than 50% among severe patients. And those taking the drug had a 60% higher chance of improvement in clinical status compared to placebo.

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Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck takes a swing at the IL-2 puz­zle­box with a $1.85B play for buzzy Pan­dion and its au­toim­mune hope­fuls

When Roger Perlmutter bid farewell to Merck late last year, the drugmaker perhaps best known now for sales giant Keytruda signaled its intent to take a swing at early-stage novelty with the appointment of discovery head Dean Li. Now, Merck is signing a decent-sized check to bring an IL-2 moonshot into the fold.

Merck will shell out roughly $1.85 billion for Pandion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech hoping to gin up regulatory T cells (Tregs) to treat a range of autoimmune disorders, the drugmaker said Thursday.

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Steve Cutler, Icon CEO (Icon)

In the biggest CRO takeover in years, Icon doles out $12B for PRA Health Sci­ences to fo­cus on de­cen­tral­ized clin­i­cal work

Contract research M&A had a healthy run in recent years before recently petering out. But with the market ripe for a big buyout and the Covid-19 pandemic emphasizing the importance of decentralized trials, Wednesday saw a tectonic shift in the CRO world.

Icon, the Dublin-based CRO, will acquire PRA Health Sciences for $12 billion in a move that will shake up the highest rungs of a fragmented market. The merger would combine the 5th- and 6th-largest CROs by 2020 revenue, according to Icon, and the merger will set the newco up to be the second-largest global CRO behind only IQVIA.

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CEO Fred Aslan (Artiva)

NK cell ther­a­py play­er Arti­va makes some more noise, pulling in $120M Se­ries B less than a month af­ter Mer­ck deal

Not even one month after Big Pharma took notice of Artiva when Merck signed a collaboration worth nearly $2 billion in milestones, the off-the-shelf NK cell biotech already has its next big fundraise.

Artiva returns from the venture well Friday with a $120 million Series B round, money they will use to get their first program into the clinic and to file INDs for another two candidates. The raise marks the latest development in a rapidly expanding footprint for Artiva, which, in addition to the Merck deal last month, has now raised almost $200 million since its Series A last June.