17. Richard Pops, Alkermes
2018 pay: $17.06 million
2017 pay: $9.38 million
It wasn’t the easiest 2018 for Irish biotech Alkermes after an FDA advisory committee roundly criticized its phase 3 major depressive disorder (MDD) drug in November. Despite that setback, CEO Richard Pops had a very lucrative year on top—but things could change when his 2019 pay is totted up.
Pops saw his total compensation nearly double in 2018 to $17.06 million, rocketing him up the list of highest-paid CEOs in pharma and biotech. In 2017, Pops’ compensation came in at $9.38 million, according to the company’s proxy filing. That’s an 81.8% increase on the year.
While Pops’ base salary stayed relatively flat—a little over $1 million in 2018 compared with $964,000 in 2017—his stock and option awards increased dramatically. Pops received $4.88 million in stock awards and a whopping $10.01 million in option awards, a combined $14.89 million that easily bests the $7.29 million he collected the year before. In terms of incentive pay, Pops cleared $1.52 million in cash, with $13,750 in other compensation.
With Pops’ pay package on the rise, Alkermes’ compensation committee eyed a drop in the company’s share price as it determined its top executives’ stock awards this year.
“Despite our meaningful accomplishments in 2018, our share price declined in 2018,” the company said. “To further align (Pops’) financial interests with those of our shareholders, the compensation committee added a market performance condition to 50% of the total value of our CEO’s 2019 equity grant.”
Marred by a roller-coaster ride with the FDA for its phase 3 antidepressant hopeful ALKS 5461, Alkermes’ share price dipped from a 2018 high of $67.26 per share to $28.49 per share in late December.
The trouble started with the FDA refusing to review the company’s application for the drug in April, citing a lack of sufficient clinical evidence that the opioid-based depression drug’s was safe and efficacious. Weeks later, the FDA flip-flopped on that decision, but an advisory committee later put the drug on blast, voting 21-2 against recommending it for federal approval.