Last year's hyperbole-straining biopharma boom saw 41 drug approvals, a class dotted with projected blockbusters whose debut sent market caps around the industry soaring to unprecedented heights. And that hot streak trickled down to the industry's best-compensated scientists, as the virtuous cycle of ever-climbing valuations helped line the pockets of biopharma's R&D leaders.
The year's 10 highest-paid development executives pulled in $124.4 million in total compensation, a roughly 35% jump over 2013's top earners. And while each entrant benefited from meeting individual company goals, the whole group benefited from biopharma's macroeconomic moment in the sun, as the value of stock awards skyrocketed alongside the industry index.
Take, for example, Gilead Sciences ($GILD) Chief Scientific Officer Norbert Bischofberger. As a reward for his leadership in developing the drugs that became Harvoni and Zydelig, Gilead dialed up his stock awards and incentive pay, making for a whopping 21.5% raise and gross take-home of $8.3 million.
But Bischofberger didn't make this list.
And neither did Amgen's ($AMGN) Sean Harper, Novartis' ($NVS) Mark Fishman nor GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) Moncef Slaoui, a trio of mainstays whose nothing-to-scoff-at paychecks were usurped by younger companies promising big payouts as they take a page from Big Pharma and diversify their pipelines.
This year's top 10 is, across the board, noticeably light on multinational pharma giants. That's in part because, for reasons including legal obligation and continental custom, the likes of AstraZeneca ($AZN), Sanofi ($SNY) and Roche ($RHHBY) don't disclose what they pay their top researchers. But it also reflects the continued rise of biopharma's middle class, as former upstarts like Regeneron ($REGN), Biogen ($BIIB) and Alexion ($ALXN) are contending with--and outspending--traditional powerhouses. -- Damian Garde (email | Twitter)