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

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