Eli Lilly CEO's pay grows—again—to $23.7M after COVID antibody launch, new approvals

David Ricks
Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks won a $23.7 million pay package in 2020. (LillyPad)

The COVID-19 pandemic derailed plans for companies worldwide last year, but Eli Lilly adapted by developing medicines against the novel coronavirus—to the tune of $871 million in antibody revenue for Q4—while still pushing sales of its newer meds.

Now, CEO David Ricks is reaping the rewards with a pay package that could place him among the best-compensated pharma execs for the year.

Ricks collected a $23.7 million pay package for 2020, according to a recent proxy filing—an 11% increase from the $21.28 million he earned in total in 2019.

The helmsman took home $1.483 million in salary last year, plus cash incentive pay of $2.625 million. His stock awards came in at $13.6 million. Plus, his pension value grew by nearly $6 million, a significant contributor to the overall compensation bump. 

Lilly “exceeded our revenue target and nearly achieved our [earnings] target,” the company said in its proxy filing, and scored emergency use authorizations for multiple COVID-19 therapies. The company snagged its first approvals for cancer therapy Retevmo and mealtime insulin Lyumjev, and it also won add-on uses for psoriasis med Taltz, cancer treatment Cyramza and rheumatoid arthritis treatment Olumiant.

RELATED: Lilly CEO Ricks scores big pay bump to $21.3M, beating out other Big Pharma CEOs 

On the R&D side, Lilly started three phase 3 studies and 17 phase 1 studies and exceeded an industry benchmark on speed of development, the proxy said.

Lilly published its 2020 executive compensation information ahead of many other Big Pharma players, but data points on biopharma CEO pay for 2020 are now trickling in. Novartis awarded Vas Narasimhan an $11.6 million pay package for last year, while AstraZeneca's Pascal Soriot nabbed a $21.5 million package. Based on 2019 data, Ricks' pay package would be enough to land him in the top 5.

RELATED: Eli Lilly CFO steps down—and gives up $24M-plus in cash and equity—after investigation finds 'inappropriate' behavior 

Elsewhere in Lilly's executive suite, former CFO Josh Smiley earned a $3.7 million pay package, one reduced dramatically after an investigation found inappropriate relationships with employees. Smiley forfeited $24 million in cash and future equity incentive awards in his exit agreement with Lilly. Without that, his pay package for the year would have totaled $7.3 million. 

Aside from Ricks and Smiley, Lilly’s chief scientific officer, Dan Skovronsky, won a $7.3 million pay package, while general counsel Anat Hakim nabbed $5.9 million in total. Lilly’s international president, Alfonso Zulueta, scored a $6.6 million pay package.