Pharma's highest paid execs from 2014 can move over. Way, way over.Horizon CEO Timothy Walbert
Horizon Pharma ($HZNP) has disclosed the 2015 compensation package for CEO Timothy Walbert, and it makes the totals for 2014's chart-toppers look like peanuts.
Walbert netted a whopping $93.4 million in compensation--a tally more than 10 times greater than 2014, and more than 49 times greater than 2013. His outsized pay package comprised $47.4 million worth of stock options, as well as $43.5 million in restricted shares--equity awards bestowed on Walbert after the board decided that company execs, who previously had lower ownership stakes than their pharma-industry peers, hadn't had "the opportunity to share in the value created."
And the rest? Walbert's base salary totaled $859,375, and he also nabbed a $1.53 million bonus--plus another $67,650 bonus that the board approved last month. His other compensation, including personal travel expenses and financial planning, legal fee reimbursement and pension contributions, came to $62,537.
It's quite the haul for Walbert, who blew 2014's highest rankers out of the water. Those would be Regeneron's ($REGN) CEO, Len Schleifer, who pocketed $41.97 million, and the Tarrytown, NY, company's R&D chief, George Yancopoulos, who led his peers with $35.5 million. That's not to say Regeneron's top brass has never come close to equaling Walbert's pay; in 2012, Yancopoulos raked in $81.5 million in total compensation. But let's remember that that was the year blockbuster med Eylea took off after launching in late 2011, and Yancopoulos was being rewarded for its development.
Horizon, on the other hand, has no blockbuster meds--or anything that comes close. Led by Duexis, a $190.4 million seller in 2015, the Dublin drugmaker didn't even crack the $1 billion mark with all its products combined (they brought in $757 million, for those keeping track).
Instead, Walbert kept his company's stock price flourishing in 2015 through the use of a specialty pharmacy program, which it said in 2014 would "mitigate the effects" of payer pressure on meds including Vimovo; leading payers froze out that product after Horizon employed the buy-and-hike pricing strategy that's recently landed the likes of Valeant ($VRX) and Martin Shkreli in hot water.
But pharmacy benefits managers haven't exactly been pleased with those tactics, and top dog Express Scripts ($ESRX) fought back in November. It terminated Horizon-linked specialty pharmacy Linden Care from its network, arguing that it "predominantly dispensed Horizon prescription drugs and did not fulfill key components of our pharmacy network agreements." And the PBM said it would be taking a hard look at "several other pharmacies that seemed to be mostly dispensing Horizon's meds, too.
Those moves, part of a widening crackdown on specialty pharmacies in the wake of allegations that Valeant used its network to inflate its top line, have hurt Horizon recently--and February news that the company had received a subpoena from a U.S. Attorney requesting documents about its patient assistance programs and marketing practices didn't help, either. So far, shares have sunk 25% on the year, which could hurt Walbert's compensation going forward. 97% of it is "tied directly to Horizon share price performance," company spokesman Geoff Curtis told FiercePharma in an emailed statement. "The company is not aware of another equity incentive program in which senior management has assumed as much risk for generating above market equity appreciation."
- see Horizon's proxy filing
Special Report: The top 20 highest-paid biopharma CEOs of 2014