CEO, Alexion Pharmaceuticals
2012 pay package: $13.599 million
2011 pay package: $13.03 million
Professional Profile: Before founding Alexion ($ALXN), Leonard Bell was an assistant professor of medicine and pathology and co-director of the program in Vascular Biology at the Yale University School of Medicine. He also served as an attending physician at the Yale-New Haven Hospital and remains on the faculty of the Yale University School of Medicine as an adjunct assistant professor of medicine and pathology. He helped develop Soliris (eculizumab), Alexion's first product and the first in a new class of therapies to inhibit terminal complement. He also played a central role in the regulatory submission, approval and introduction of Soliris in 2007.
2012 Compensation Stack: Bell earned $1,100,000 in salary; $2,839,500 in stock; $6,844,930 in options; and $2,815,021 worth of perks and other compensation.
Company Performance: Alexion has made its name with its rare-disease drug Soliris, which costs up to $440,000 per year, depending on the patient. Since it was launched in 2007 for one indication--to treat patients with a rare and terminal form of anemia--the company has broadened the drug's market and increased its sales by 600%.
Last year, Alexion's net income increased 45% to $254.8 million, or $1.28 per share, compared to $175.3 million, or $0.91 per share, in 2011. Sales of Soliris helped boost those numbers--the company reported net product sales of $320.5 million in 2012, compared to $227.6 million for the same period in 2011. The drug is so effective that private insurers and national health agencies are willing to cough up the dough.
The blockbuster that is Soliris landed Alexion the number 2 spot on Forbes' Most Innovative Companies List. The second approved use, for a kidney ailment called atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome, could represent hundreds of millions of dollars a year in sales for Alexion, analysts estimate.
Alexion's story is proof that there are big profits to be found in rare disorders. 2012 may have been an upbeat year for Alexion, but this year, the FDA issued the company a warning letter in March for a Rhode Island plant where Soliris is manufactured. Alexion said the agency was not satisfied with how the company investigated "bacterial contamination of certain batches," as well as other cGMP issues. In April, the company hired experts to investigate and fix the problems the FDA found. Alexion has said that no finished product was contaminated and that there will be no shortage of the drug. The company is continuing to manufacture Soliris at the plant and has approval for one contract manufacturer to produce the drug as part of its plan to manufacture the drug globally. It expects approval of a second contractor by the fourth quarter.
Alexion brings in hired guns for troubled plant
Warning letter details contamination of Alexion's Soliris API
Pricey Soliris performs in another rare disease
Now, every pharma wants a $440K drug like Alexion's
Booming Alexion blueprints new HQ, plans for 300 new hires