In banner year, Lilly rewards CEO David Ricks with 24% boost in total pay to $26.6M

Eli Lilly’s revenue is tracking upward, its share price has climbed and its market cap has skyrocketed to the highest in the biopharma industry.

It's little wonder, then, that its executives, led by CEO David Ricks, are raking in the rewards. In 2023, Ricks received a 24% boost in pay from $21.4 million to $26.6 million, according to the company’s proxy filing.

Ricks, 56, who took over as CEO of the Indianapolis company in 2017 and gained the board chair position five months later, has seen his pay jump from $15.8 million in his first year in charge. His previous high came in 2020 when he collected $23.1 million, ranking No. 6 in the industry.  

As companies have reported their executive compensation this month, Ricks' pay package ranks among the largest in the biopharma industry. By comparison, Johnson & Johnson CEO Joaquin Duato received $28.4 million in 2023, while Gilead Sciences CEO Daniel O'Day collected $22.6 million and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, Ph.D., made $21.6 million.   

Ricks is a homegrown product, getting his bachelor’s degree at Purdue and his MBA at Indiana. He has served the company since 1996, starting as a business development associate. He was president of Lilly Bio-Medicines for four years before gaining the CEO post.

Accounting largely for Ricks’ compensation increase in 2023 was his bonus, which jumped from $2.7 million to $4.4 million, his stock awards, which grew from $17.0 million to $18.8 million, and his change in pension value, which swelled from nil to $1.4 million.

“Since assuming the role of CEO, Lilly has experienced revenue growth of approximately 61%, experienced a five-year total shareholder return of 446% and taken important steps to increase the affordability and accessibility of our products around the globe,” Lilly wrote in its filing.

2023 was a banner year for Lilly as its revenue jumped 20% to $34.1 billion thanks largely to booming sales of its diabetes and weight loss treatments Mounjaro and Zepbound, which combined for more than $5.3 billion. Lilly and Novo Nordisk were the only drugmakers among the industry’s top 20 by sales that achieved double-digit growth in 2023, demonstrating the remarkable impact weight loss drugs have had on the market.  

Among Lilly’s other top executives, Chief Scientific Officer Daniel Skovronsky, M.D., Ph.D., collected $11.85 million last year, up from $8.46 million, with his bonus pay increasing from $1.4 million to $2.4 million.

General counsel Anat Hakim made $7 million, up from $5.3 million, while oncology chief Jake Van Naarden received $4.9 million, which was up from his $3.6 million pay in 2022 but down from the $6.1 million he collected in 2021.