After working to recover from several CAR-T clinical setbacks, Juno Therapeutics CEO Hans Bishop is in line for a nice payday when his company sells itself to Celgene.
Bishop, one of Juno's founders, is set to collect more than $200 million from the deal. As of last week, he held about 2.5 million shares, according to Nasdaq. At the $87-per-share price Celgene agreed to pay, his holdings are worth about $217 million.
Other components of Bishop's pay package will likely boost the figure higher.
As with other CAR-T players, the road hasn't always been certain for Bishop and Juno. The company was once a leader in the field before trial deaths set it back and forced it to abandon its lead drug. Still, Juno is among a few players near or on the market in CAR-T and attracted a $9.7 billion offer from Celgene on Monday.
As of now, Novartis and Gilead remain the only companies with marketed CAR-T drugs. Novartis beat all other players to the market in CAR-T in August when the FDA signed off on Kymriah to treat relapsed/refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The company is now working to expand its med's reach in relapsed/refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and in Europe to treat r/r ALL. Since Novartis' approval, Gilead picked up approval for Yescarta to treat certain types of large B-cell lymphoma. That drugmaker entered the field through its $11.9 billion Kite Pharma buyout in August.
CAR-T meds are one-time treatments made of cells that are collected from each patient, re-engineered and then infused back into the patient to attack cancer. Given that drugmakers essentially sell them only once per patient, they are tagging them with premium prices. Novartis' Kymriah costs $475,000 with a reimbursement system in place if certain patients don't respond within a month, while Gilead's med costs $373,000. Even with their high prices, many experts see CAR-T drugs as a future cornerstone of cancer treatment.
The windfall for Bishop, a Juno co-founder and its CEO since the company's 2013 creation, stands to be among pharma's largest if the buyout closes as expected this quarter. It remains to be seen just how large the golden parachute will grow to be once all of its components are included, but it will be tough to match Kite CEO Arie Belldegrun's $600-plus million payout following the Gilead deal.
Last year, Medivation CEO David Hung made $354 million after his company's sale to Pfizer, including vested and unvested stock options, incentive plans and more.
Before that, Allergan CEO David Pyott collected $100 million after his company's sale to Actavis. Wyeth CEO Bernard Poussot made $53 million following his company's sale to Pfizer, according to FiercePharma research, while Schering-Plough CEO Fred Hassan pocketed nearly $50 million from the Merck & Co merger.