Pfizer, riding high on COVID-19 vaccine launch, pays CEO Bourla $21M for 2020

Thanks to the success of its COVID-19 vaccine, the drug giant Pfizer has become a household name around the globe—and the company's eyeing $15 billion in sales from the shot this year.

For writing that 2020 success story, CEO Albert Bourla, Ph.D., collected a pay package worth more than $21 million.

Bourla, who took the reins as Pfizer's CEO in early 2019, scored $21.03 million in total 2020 pay, a proxy filing submitted Friday shows. Bourla's compensation package includes a salary of $1.65 million, cash incentive pay of $5.49 million and long-term incentive awards—in the form of Pfizer options that vest over time—of $14 million.

For Pfizer—and the entire global economy—last year was defined by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to its quick response and its vaccine partnership with BioNTech, the company now has a coronavirus vaccine very much in demand throughout the world.

The company quickly ushered its program through clinical testing last year, and in December the Pfizer/BioNTech shot scored the first FDA emergency use authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine.

RELATED: First-to-market Pfizer expects a whopping $15B from its COVID-19 shot in 2021

Now, the company is rolling out the shot in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere. Pfizer and BioNTech aim to produce 2 billion doses in 2021, and Pfizer has said it could see $15 billion—or more—in sales from the shot this year.

Aside from its work in COVID-19, Pfizer also completed its Upjohn spinoff last year. In July 2019, the company said it would combine the off-patent branded and generic established medicines business with generic giant Mylan. The deal closed last November, completing Pfizer's push to transition into a research-based drugmaker.

RELATED: Pfizer's big split is finally here, thanks to a giant generics merger with Mylan

Last year, during his first year as CEO, Bourla's pay totaled $19.7 million. As chief operating officer the prior year, he nabbed a $9.85 million compensation package.

Bourla's 2020 compensation comes in at about the middle of Big Pharma CEO pay packages reported so far. Johnson & Johnson's Alex Gorsky pulled in nearly $30 million, for instance, while Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks' pay package totaled $23.7 million. AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot nabbed a $21.5 million compensation package.

Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson's pay came in at $13.6 million last year, while Novartis' Vas Narasimhan collected $11.6 million. GSK CEO Emma Walmsley's 2020 pay came in at around $9.7 million.