Sean Harper, Amgen

Sean Harper, Amgen ($AMGN)
2012 Pay Package: $6.09 million
2011 Pay Package: N/A (Harper became executive vice president of R&D in February 2012)
2012 Compensation: $835,038 salary; $3.54 million in stock awards; $1.54 million in incentive pay; $176,814 in other compensation

When Sean Harper took the R&D helm at Amgen in February 2012, he inherited a chest full of assets collected by his predecessor, Roger Perlmutter. The ovarian cancer drug trebananib (AMG 386) and melanoma treatment talimogene laherparepvec were only two of them. He also was left with an ongoing restructuring aimed at reining in Amgen's $3 billion-plus R&D budget.

By year's end, spending had gone up 7% to $3.38 billion. The company counted 8 late-stage drug programs. It had spent $415 million on deCODE, hoping to tap the genomics specialist's expertise at rooting out genetic causes of disease. It had forged a partnership with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers on biotech spinoff Atara.

Plus, industry watchers were abuzz about its potential cholesterol-fighting drug, AMG 145, which targets a protein known as PCSK9. That's one of the hottest drug targets right now, with Pfizer ($PFE) and several others all trying their hands. But at the head of the pack are Amgen and a Sanofi/Regeneron partnership. All of the companies want a piece of the prospective market, and Amgen thinks its version could be a megablockbuster.

Since then, Harper unveiled high marks for AMG 386, which targets a culprit in formation of tumor blood vessels, in the first of three Phase III studies. More data on the drug is due Oct. 1 at the European Cancer Congress. Harper has Perlmutter to thank for bringing the drug into the Amgen fold, of course. But marshaling the data through FDA approval will be all on him, and analysts think it's no sure thing.

Harper joined Amgen in 2002 from Merck Research Laboratories as vice president of development. He went on to serve as VP of global regulatory affairs and safety, and then advanced to senior vice president of global development and corporate chief medical officer before taking the top R&D spot, EVP of research and development.

For more:
Amgen notches positive PhIII results for top cancer drug
Amgen trumpets T-Vec oncolytic virus results from PhIII melanoma study
Amgen, Novartis aim to fuel biotech startups in alliances with Atlas Venture
Amgen scores PhIII success with BioVex virus against melanoma

-- Emily Mullin

Sean Harper, Amgen

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