Peer Review, People

How much does it cost to hire a top Big Pharma exec to run a biotech? Here are 4 (very) fresh examples

Let’s say you’re on the board of a small- mid- to mega-sized public biotech company. If you're still small, let's say you're either engaged in early commercial work or expecting to start soon. And let’s say, for whatever reason, you and your fellow board members want a new CEO who offers good odds of hitting some big goals in the very near future. Someone who your investors will stand up and cheer — or at least not condemn right off the bat.

Someone who will make you proud and save you from disaster; who will inspire growing share values.

The typical answer is to go find someone on the executive committee of a major pharma company.

But how much does that cost?

I culled 4 very fresh examples from the last few weeks for what this CEO can command. And it may surprise you just how much they can fetch on this hot market.

Or not. 

The 4 are Liz Barrett, the ex-Novartis and Pfizer oncology chief with experience running a multibillion-dollar company; Mark Mallon, who jumped from EVP at AstraZeneca to run the commercial ops at Ironwood, post-split; Jackie Fouse, who took the helm at Agios last fall after jumping from Celgene to one of the -vants at Roivant; and Daniel O'Day, who hit the big one with the helm at Gilead.

I would have liked to have included Bahija Jallal from MedImmune, who couldn’t have come cheap at Immunocore, which needs to revamp and regain its former unicorn hue. But they’re still private, so the numbers will have to wait.

Key lessons. The guys got paid more upfront, but it’s the equity on the table that offers the “standard rich and famous” clause pegged for success. Also, not all these numbers are so easy to compute, though we’ll give Urogen top marks for keeping it all on the table. Finally, a few wrinkles don't hurt. All three of our executives were in their mid-50s, within a year or two of each other, with decades of experience to count on.

Here’s the breakdown:

Liz Barrett, 56


Company: Urogen {$URGN}

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VP Oncology Biology
Skyhawk Therapeutics Waltham, MA
Associate Director CMC
Elektroki Boston, MA
Director Process Development
Elektroki Boston, MA
Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT

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