Report: Biopharma CEOs score 'supersalaries' even as sales decline

Lilly CEO John Lechleiter

Eli Lilly ($LLY) warned its investors in January that generic competition to its hit drugs Cymbalta and Evista would cause revenues to fall from $23 billion last year to just under $20 billion this year--but that hasn't stopped CEO John Lechleiter from taking home a rich pay package. Even as the company was freezing salaries and laying off 1,000 sales reps, Lechleiter's pay package rose 10% in 2013 to $11.2 million, according to the New York Times annual look at CEO pay at the 100 largest U.S. companies.

Lechleiter was one of six pharma CEOs to make the NYT 2013 executive-pay ranking, which the paper appropriately headlined "Invasion of the Supersalaries." But he wasn't at the top of the list of highly paid drug industry execs. That position went to Abbott's ($ABT) Miles White, who saw his pay rise 8% to $20.5 million, placing him in the 13th spot overall on the NYT list.

Not far behind White was Richard Gonzalez, CEO of the Abbott pharma spinoff AbbVie ($ABBV), whose pay package in the company's first full independent year was set at $18.1 million. It was an eye-popping compensation package--double what Gonzalez was making in 2012, when he was running the pharma unit inside of Abbott--but not surprising considering the parent company's compensation history: White consistently ranks at or near the top of FiercePharma's annual list of the highest-paid drug company CEOs.

Abbott CEO Miles White

Pfizer ($PFE) CEO Ian Read came in 29th in the NYT ranking, with 2013 pay totaling $17.7 million, a 4% drop over the previous year. His base salary went up only slightly, from $1.75 million to $1.78 million. But the overall value of his pay package has dropped significantly from 2011, when he was promoted to CEO and given a salary plus bonus and stock totaling $25 million.

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) CEO Alex Gorsky, who took over for William Weldon in April 2012, brought home $15.2 million in compensation last year, according to the NYT. Gorsky has some catching up to do: Weldon's 2012 compensation was $30 million, despite slowing sales growth and supply problems at its McNeil Consumer Healthcare unit. Amgen ($AMGN) CEO Robert Bradway took home $13.6 million--not bad, but surprisingly low considering he pulled off the largest pharma M&A deal of 2013, buying Onyx Pharmaceuticals for $10.4 billion.

- here's the NYT story (sub. req.)
- access the NYT interactive list of CEO pay (sub. req.)

Special Reports: 20 Highest-Paid Biopharma CEOs of 2012 | Eli Lilly - The top 10 largest pharma layoffs in 2013

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