J&J's Joaquin Duato nets major raise to $28.4M, jumps to top of pharma CEO pay rankings

It didn’t take long for Johnson & Johnson CEO Joaquin Duato to catch up to his predecessor. After paying Duato $13.1 million in his first year as CEO, the pharma giant more than doubled his compensation to $28.4 million last year, according to a regulatory filing.

The 117% raise places Duato in the rare air occupied by former J&J CEO Alex Gorsky, whose annual pay twice exceeded $29 million during his decade in charge. In his final year at J&J (2021), Gorsky ranked No. 1 in biopharma industry with a haul of $26.7 million.

Duato’s big bump came from a near doubling of his equity awards from $8.3 million in 2022 to $16 million last year. Duato, 61, also realized a $6.2 million change in his pension value, up from nil in 2022.

The CEO also saw an increase in his bonus compensation from $3.1 million to $4.4 million, plus a raise in his salary from $1.49 million to $1.58 million.

It was a strong year for J&J as it regained the top spot among companies in the industry with $85 billion in revenue, which was a 6.5% increase from 2022. After J&J ruled as No. 1 in sales for a decade, Pfizer gained the top slot in 2022 thanks to booming revenue from COVID products.

“The company largely met or exceeded its combined financial and strategic goals in 2023 under Mr. Duato’s leadership … awarding him an annual performance bonus at 130.4% of target and long-term incentives at 125.0% of target,” J&J said in the filing.

The board added that Duato delivered on financial goals with “record-level operational investments in R&D and product innovation,” and that he “exceeded our milestones in finalizing the separation of our consumer health business.”

Duato's compensation for 2023 places him No. 1 among the best-paid pharma CEOs for the companies that have disclosed executive pay so far this year. While many U.S. drugmakers have yet to file proxy statements, the European Big Pharma companies have disclosed their CEO pay figures.

Behind Duato, AstraZeneca's Pascal Soriot nabbed a total compensation package of around $21.3 million for 2023, while Moderna's Stéphane Bancel collected total compensation of around $18.5 million.

Meanwhile, J&J spread the wealth among its C-suite execs in 2023. John Reed, M.D., Ph.D., collected $20.6 million in his first year as R&D chief. Reed received a cash sign-on award of $5.7 million upon his hire in April for compensation from his previous employer (Sanofi) that he forfeited by moving to J&J. 

The drugmaker also provided Reed a restricted share unit award of $11.7 million which replaced $6.2 million of forfeited equity incentives from Sanofi.

J&J's chief financial officer Joe Wolk realized a compensation increase from $8.8 million in 2022 to $13.9 million last year. Jennifer Taubert, who heads up innovative medicine, received $11 million, which was up from $8.8 million in 2022.

Medtech chief Ashley McEvoy collected $9.4 million, up from $7.4 million in 2022.