J&J chief Alex Gorsky suffers a big drop in compensation, but still comes out way ahead of most major league CEOs

J&J CEO Alex Gorsky took home a seriously diminished compensation package for 2018, but there’s no need to add him to your prayer list as he still brought home one of the biggest CEO paydays recorded so far this year in the giant pharma category.

Add it all up and the biopharma conglomerate chief earned a package worth a bit over $20 million. That’s a steep drop from $29.8 million recorded for 2017, with a decline of $2 million for his stock options and a wipeout on pension value. His salary ticked up a teeny bit to $1.64 million, but it’s the equity portions that offer the upside when you play in the big leagues.

Paul Stoffels

That change on pensions was reflected for the entire top team at J&J, including CSO Paul Stoffels, who netted $10.6 million, down from $13.6 million. Joaquin Duato, the vice chairman of the executive committee, grabbed a compensation package worth $9.3 million, a $10 million plunge.

Running a global Big Pharma company like J&J has its ups and downs. Like the rest of the top 15 players in the business, J&J has to contend with some fierce blowback on US prices. Its big drug Xarelto saw a significant dip in sales in Q4 due to discounting. And its older drugs are no longer tapped for annual price hikes, flattening revenue projections for 2019.

Joaquin Duato

J&J, though, has some successes it can boast about, including a reformulated nasal spray version of ketamine for severe depression, recently approved by the FDA. 

Gorsky’s decline in fortunes still leaves him a close second on the list of top earners in his echelon of execs, right behind AbbVie chief Richard Gonzalez, who’s been riding the Humira gravy train while developing new drugs. And he’s way ahead of last-place finisher Emma Walmsley, with a $7.67 million compensation package at GSK.

Image: Alex Gorsky during a meeting with President Donald Trump, 2017. AP IMAGES

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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