Regeneron CEO's pay drops 95%—but that shouldn't come as a shock

After a pair of monumental payouts in 2020, the compensation packages for Regeneron’s top executives have come back down to Earth.

Regeneron's CEO, Leonard Schleifer, M.D., Ph.D., collected a total of $6.47 million in 2021 pay, a whopping 95% decrease from the $135 million he made the year before, a proxy filing shows.

The compensation slump was to be expected, however. Most of Schleifer’s 2020 pay was tied to a front-loaded equity award. Under that compensation plan, Regeneron’s CEO and its top scientist, George Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., won’t be handed more stocks until December 2025.

Yancopoulos, for his part, pocketed about $6.39 million in 2021 pay, far less than the $134.38 million he bagged in 2020.

Digging deeper into the executives’ pay, Schleifer snagged a salary of $1.76 million. He received cash incentive pay worth a little over $4 million, plus $672,130 in “other” compensation.

Yancopoulos’ salary and cash incentive pay were equal to Schleifer’s, but the chief scientific officer made slightly less in the other compensation category.

Schleifer dominated the rankings of the top-paid biopharma CEOs last year, but he likely won’t make the cut in 2021.

Meanwhile, after last year’s historic payoff, Regeneron plans to let investors chime in more frequently on its executive compensation, the company said.

“Earlier this year, after careful consideration of shareholder feedback received following the 2021 annual shareholder meeting, our board of directors voluntarily changed the frequency of our say-on-pay votes from every three years to every year, commencing at the 2022 Annual Meeting,” Regeneron said in its annual proxy filing. 

The company pointed out that in 2017, shareholders approved a plan to vote on executive pay every three years. The next vote on the matter wasn’t scheduled until 2023.

Still, Regeneron’s board concluded that “the 2017 vote did not reflect current views of our shareholders, based on the shareholder feedback we had received, and that it was in the best interests of shareholders to unilaterally adopt an annual say-on-pay vote effective immediately.”

At the same time, Regeneron stuck by its pledge not to hand Schleifer and Yancopoulos equity awards before the middle of the decade.