16. David Ricks, Eli Lilly
2018 pay: $17.23 million
2017 pay: $15.85 million
As can be said for any biopharma CEO, David Ricks has certainly been busy since taking the helm at the Indianapolis drugmaker. A 22-year company veteran, he became CEO at the start of 2017 and pulled in a $15.85 million pay package that year.
In his sophomore year at the helm, Ricks earned a 9% raise for a total pay package of $17.23 million. His base salary hit $1.4 million, and his board granted a $3.63 million cash bonus based on financial and pipeline performance. Plus, he netted two performance-based types of equity grants that measure how the company is doing against a peer group that includes AbbVie, Gilead Sciences and Pfizer.
And while some companies shell out on personal travel for executives, Lilly didn’t record any costs from Ricks’ personal travel last year. He “did not receive any other perquisites,” the filing says.
Aside from financial performance, Lilly's drug launches and R&D advances are among the factors that determine the drugmaker’s executive pay.
Besides overseeing those launches—namely cancer drug Verzenio and immunology therapy Olumiant—Ricks has been busy cutting costs, funneling more cash toward R&D and distributing profits to shareholders.
As Lilly's proxy noted, the CEO “drove a cross-company productivity agenda that funded increased investment in research and development and allowed above-plan capital return to shareholders." That’s likely a reference to the thousands of layoffs and other cuts Lilly put through in recent years to save $500 million annually. Most came in the form of early retirements.
The company release also reported its CEO-to-worker pay ratio for last year. Lilly's median employee compensation came in at $91,246, and Ricks made 189 times that.
Ricks’ second-year pay bump came during a year of ups and downs for his employer. As its important diabetes business continues to suffer from U.S. pricing pressure, the company is looking to its new launches to pitch in new growth.
One of them has taken off. Approved in 2016 for psoriasis, immunology drug Taltz is nearing blockbuster territory with 2018 sales of $937 million, despite head-to-head competition against Novartis' powerhouse Cosentyx.
Its new cancer drug Verzenio and another immunology launch, Olumiant, are starting to record meaningful sales, too. Each hit more than $200 million in 2018. And Lilly expects its even newer CGRP drug, Emgality, to serve as a cornerstone of a new migraine and pain franchise.
All told in 2018, Lilly grew sales 7% to $24.56 billion. Net income for the year came in at $3.23 billion after a $204 million loss in 2017.