Big Pharma execs top highest-paid Swiss list

Who tops the list of highest-paid Swiss executives? None other than pharma's own Daniel Vasella (photo), CEO of Novartis. Vasella's 2008 compensation grew by more than 20 percent from 2007, to 20.5 million francs. That's $20.24 million at today's exchange rates, $18.5 million as of Jan. 5, 2009.

Vasella's crosstown rival Franz Humer (photo), chairman of Roche, came in third place despite a 30 percent decline in his 2008 income to 15.2 million francs, or $15.05 million now and $13.72 million on Jan. 5.

So essentially, two of the three highest-paid executives in Switzerland hail from Big Pharma. We're not sure whether this says more about the drug industry--which has seen quite an increase in pay over the past several years--or more about the differences between executive pay in the U.S. versus Europe.

You see, Vasella didn't even make the top 5 on FiercePharma's highest-paid pharma executives list; his salary slotted him in at No. 7. And you'd have to look way down the Forbes list of highest-paid CEOs to get to a Vasella-sized compensation package. Way, way down. Past No. 75, even.

Maybe it says the most about Switzerland--it's been a center for drug and device work for years now. In light of that, it's not such a surprise that two of pharma's best-paid call that small country their home base.

- read the news from Swisster
- get the original ranking from Handelszeitung (in German)