Who’s the top earn­ing CEO in bio­phar­ma? Mar­tine Roth­blatt once again hits top slot with $37M pay pack­age

For­get Al­ler­gan CEO Brent Saun­ders’ hefty $33 mil­lion pay pack­age for 2017. Ian Read, you and your $28 mil­lion Pfiz­er deal, com­plete with $1 mil­lion re­ten­tion bonus, is just an al­so-ran for last year’s top pay pack­age. Re­gen­eron likes to pay top wages to co-founders Len Schleifer and George Yan­copou­los — but they’re not close to the top spot. And J&J’s Alex Gorsky once again scored high, at $29 mil­lion, but isn’t the high­est.

That prize ev­i­dent­ly goes to Unit­ed Ther­a­peu­tics CEO Mar­tine Roth­blatt, who once again out­stripped them all. Unit­ed’s proxy shows that Roth­blatt, with rev­enue that ac­counts for on­ly a tiny slice of what the ma­jors get, earned a com­pen­sa­tion pack­age worth $37.1 mil­lion. Most of that, of course, is for her stock op­tions. And the full pack­age runs over twice the $15 mil­lion deal she got in 2016.

Roth­blatt is no stranger to big pay. She was the top earn­ing fe­male CEO in 2013, with $38 mil­lion to bank on.

“I think this [pay struc­ture] is in the best in­ter­est of the share­hold­ers,” she told a re­porter at the time. “There’s a mantra about cor­po­rate gov­er­nance about pay-for-per­for­mance so I said ‘okay I’ll take the risk that 100% of my bonus com­pen­sa­tion will be based up­on stock mar­ket per­for­mance.’”

But stock price wasn’t the key in the cur­rent proxy. In 2017 the stock start­ed the year at $163.63 and fin­ished at $129. 

The mon­ey this year puts Roth­blatt — who un­der­went sex re­as­sign­ment surgery more than 20 years ago — well be­yond a well-paid ex­ec­u­tive team, with gen­er­al coun­sel Paul Ma­hon tak­ing $12.9 mil­lion and COO Michael Benkowitz earn­ing com­pen­sa­tion tal­ly­ing $11.5 mil­lion.

Unit­ed Ther­a­peu­tics filed its proxy on Fri­day, three days be­fore to­day’s an­nounce­ment that Unit­ed had ac­quired ri­val SteadyMed, elim­i­nat­ing a key patent threat in the process.


Im­age: Mar­tine Roth­blatt. AP IM­AGES

No­var­tis reshuf­fles its wild cards; Tough sell for Bio­gen? Googling pro­teins; Ken Fra­zier's new gig; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

If you enjoy the People section in this report, you may also want to check out Peer Review, my colleagues Alex Hoffman and Kathy Wong’s comprehensive compilation of comings and goings in biopharma.

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Demis Hassabis, DeepMind CEO (Qianlong/Imaginechina via AP Images)

Google's Deep­Mind opens its pro­tein data­base to sci­ence — po­ten­tial­ly crack­ing drug R&D wide open

Nearly a year ago, Google’s AI outfit DeepMind announced they had cracked one of the oldest problems in biology: predicting a protein’s structure from its sequence alone. Now they’ve turned that software on nearly every human protein and hundreds of thousands of additional proteins from organisms important to medical research, such as fruit flies, mice and malaria parasite.

The new database of roughly 350,000 protein sequences and structures represents a potentially monumental achievement for the life sciences, one that could hasten new biological insights and the development of new drugs. DeepMind said it will be free and accessible to all researchers and companies.

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In­side Bio­gen's scram­ble to sell Aduhelm: Pro­ject 'Javelin' and pres­sure to ID as many pa­tients as pos­si­ble

In anticipation of Aduhelm’s approval for Alzheimer’s in June, Biogen employees were directed to identify and guarantee treatment centers would administer the drug through a program called “Javelin,” a senior Biogen employee told Endpoints News.

The program identified about 800 centers for use, he said, and Biogen now pays for the use of bioassays to identify beta amyloid in potential patients having undergone a lumbar puncture procedure, the employee said — and one center preparing to administer the drug confirmed its participation in the bioassay program.

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Vas Narasimhan, Novartis CEO (Jason Alden/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

No­var­tis dis­cards one of its ‘wild card’ drugs af­ter it flops in key study. But it takes one more for the hand

Always remember just how risky it is to gamble big on small studies.

A little more than 4 years ago, Novartis reportedly put up a package worth up to $1 billion for the dry eye drug ECF843 after a small biotech called Lubris put it through its paces in a tiny study of 40 moderate to severe patients, tracking some statistically significant markers of efficacy.

By last fall, the program had risen up to become one of CEO Vas Narasimhan’s top “wild card” programs in line for a potential breakthrough year in 2021. These drugs were all considered high-risk, high-reward efforts. And in this case, risk won.

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EMA re­jects FDA-ap­proved Parkin­son's drug, signs off on Mod­er­na vac­cine use in ado­les­cents ahead of FDA

The European Medicines Agency on Friday rejected Kyowa Kirin’s Parkinson’s disease drug Nouryant (istradefylline), which the US FDA approved in 2019 under the brand name Nourianz.

EMA said it considered that the results of the clinical studies used to support the application “were inconsistent and did not satisfactorily show that Nouryant was effective at reducing the ‘off’ time. Only four out of the eight studies showed a reduction in ‘off’ time, and the effect did not increase with an increased dose of Nouryant.”

6 top drug­mak­ers of­fer per­spec­tives on FDA's new co­vari­ates in RCTs guid­ance

Back in May, the FDA revised and expanded a 2019 draft guidance that spells out how to adjust for covariates in the statistical analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Building on the ICH’s E9 guideline on the statistical principles for clinical trials, the 3-page draft was transformed into an 8-page draft, with more detailed recommendations on linear and nonlinear models to analyze the efficacy endpoints in RCTs.

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

Ex-Mer­ck chief Ken Fra­zier takes a lead­ing role in a $600M 'Health As­sur­ance' ven­ture fund

Ken Frazier has opened up a new chapter in his storied career.

The ex-Merck CEO is joining a high-minded venture group with plans to carve a unique role for itself at the well-traveled juncture of tech and life sciences. And the new job comes through an old college buddy.

Officially, Frazier now becomes chairman of General Catalyst’s health assurance initiative. Their $600 million fund was unveiled back in early April, planning to invest in companies that could push the “evolution from a ‘sick care’ system to a resilient, proactive Health Assurance system designed to help people stay well, bend the cost curve, and make quality care more affordable and more accessible to all.”

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Mol­e­c­u­lar Di­ag­nos­tics Can Trans­form Can­cer Care. Let’s Make It Hap­pen.

Like so many people around the world, my life has been profoundly shaped by cancer. Those personal experiences, along with a deep love of clinical laboratory science and a passion to apply the power of genomics in medicine, motivated me to launch a company that would improve cancer care through better diagnostics. Thirteen years later, I am proud that we are delivering more accurate information at multiple points along the patient journey, with a focus on eight of the 10 cancers that are most commonly diagnosed in the United States.

Mod­er­na es­tab­lish­es pub­lic health-fo­cused char­i­ty; FDA ap­proves As­traZeneca di­a­betes drug for pe­di­atric use

To help promote public health and healthcare in underserved areas of the world, Moderna will establish a charity with a $50 million endowment.

The Cambridge, MA-based company announced the board of directors’ approval Thursday. The foundation will focus on “charitable, scientific and educational endeavors” with an emphasis on promoting public health and the access to healthcare, the press release said. The foundation will start operations once its status as a 501(c)(3) is approved.