As Regeneron's Eylea continues its reign as one of the best-selling drugs in the world, the company's executives have been on the receiving end of massive pay packages. For CEO Len Schleifer, 2018 was no different.
Last year, Schleifer racked up a healthy $26.5 million pay package on the year, according to the company’s proxy filing.
Schleifer’s $26.5 million places him among the top three highest-paid CEOs in the industry, following Teva’s Kare Schultz at $33 million and BeiGene’s John Oyler at $27.89 million. Schleifer’s pay essentially lines up with his 2017 package, with an increase of just $18,000.
Regeneron R&D chief George Yancopoulos totted up a $25.38 million pay package for 2018, about on par with his 2017 pay.
Yancopoulos topped the pay charts in 2012 a 500,000-share bonus award worth $81 million at the time. When it was time for that bonus to vest last year, it was worth far more—a whopping $193 million.
That significant stock award was tied to macular degeneration wonder drug Eylea, which ranks among the best-selling drugs in the world.
In 2018, Eylea posted 10% growth year-over-year, reaching $4.07 billion in worldwide sales. In addition, the drug is awaiting an FDA decision on a label expansion for diabetic retinopathy that the company expects will come in May.
As part of his 2018 pay package, Schleifer’s base salary came in at $1.33 million, a slight increase from $1.28 million in 2017. Schleifer’s option awards came out to $21.34 million, with an additional $3.85 million in cash incentive pay and other compensation.
Yancopoulos' total pay included nearly $1.13 million in base salary, with $21.34 million in stock options—the exact same as Schleifer. Yancopoulos also bagged $2.91 million in cash incentive pay and other compensation.
In terms of stock awards, Schleifer and Yancopoulos both nabbed 129,013 shares, which equated to a 7.5% decrease from 2017.
Despite fat times at Regeneron driven by Eylea’s spiking sales, trouble could be looming on the horizon.
In mid-April, the FDA granted priority review for Novartis’ brolucizumab, a wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) treatment that could challenge Eylea and a third contender in the field, Roche’s Lucentis.
In seeking priority review status, Novartis leaned on two phase 3 clinical trials pitting the AMD hopeful directly against Eylea, with some secondary endpoints showing promise, particularly in reducing retinal fluid and central subfield thickness, a key measure of abnormal fluid accumulation and edema that can result in vision loss.
In addition, Roche has high hopes for a second AMD treatment, faricimab, which would join Lucentis in the company’s eye portfolio.
Regeneron is also pinning hopes on recent FDA approval of its advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma launch, Libtayo, joining a crammed field alongside Merck & Co.’s Keytruda, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo and others. Libtayo, which went to market in late 2018, has offered "near-complete patient access," according to one analyst, with reimbursement coverage for nearly 95% of total lives in commercial, Medicare and Medicaid plans.
Editor's Note: This article has been updated to note that Libtayo is an FDA-approved treatment for advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, and clarify the drug's reimbursement coverage.