6. Alnylam Pharmaceuticals
2018 median employee pay: $243,720
2018 number of employees: 1,065
CEO: John Maraganore
2018 CEO pay: $5.09 million
CEO-to-employee pay ratio: 20.9:1
Things happen quickly in pharma: Just ask Alnylam, which scored its first FDA approval for ultrarare disease RNAi therapy Onpattro in August 2018. For Alnylam’s longtime CEO, John Maraganore, the jump to the big leagues came with a big jump in pay—and employees did well, too.
Among Alnylam’s 1,065 employees, the median pay stood at $243,720 in 2018, a strong 21.5% increase from the previous year.
That increase is nothing to sniff at, of course, but it pales in comparison to Maraganore’s long-time-coming pay bump. In 2018, Maraganore raked in $5.09 million in total compensation—a whopping 259.1% increase from the previous year. That increase took Alnylam’s 7:1 CEO-to-employee pay ratio in 2017 up to 21:1 in 2018.
According to the drugmaker, Maraganore’s pay is tied primarily to the company’s performance, and scoring the drugmaker’s first FDA green light put the 17-year executive up for a big raise.
Alnylam has also built a strong reputation as an employer: The drugmaker's offices in Zug, Switzerland, and Maidenhead, U.K., were both recently named to Great Place to Work's Best Workplaces for 2019.
The Zug office scored fourth place in the small company category, while Alnylam's Maidenhead office scored 22nd in the country rankings. In 2018, Alnylam ranked No. 18 out of 36 in the Boston Globe's lineup of top "large" workplaces—and in a city that’s among the world’s biggest biotech hubs, it was the highest biopharma on the list.
But Alnylam has been facing its share of challenges. Onpattro’s first year on the market has been a rough one as it competes head-to-head against Ionis’ Tegsedi in the ultrarare and ultrapricey hereditary transthyretin-mediated amyloidosis (hATTR) market. But that’s not all: The two therapies are bracing for a faceoff against Pfizer’s Vyndaqel (tafamidis), which got the FDA go-ahead in May and has a lower price point than both drugs.
When Tegsedi launched late last year, it matched Onpattro’s price of $450,000 per year. However, Tegsedi came with the added benefit of being self-administered, a significant advantage over Onpattro, which must be administered by a professional.
Both drugs were knocked by the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review, which said neither was cost-effective for patients at their given list prices.
Pfizer came out swinging after Vyndaqel’s approval, pledging a $225,000-per-year price that would simply blow its two potential competitors out of the water. However, Vyndaqel hasn’t yet been approved in hATTR, only snagging a nod in ATTR-CM, a related disorder. That’s good for Ionis and Alnylam because Vyndaqel’s pill form would represent a significant advance over its competitors.
Alnylam and Ionis can hang their hats on the fact that the U.K.’s cost watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), recently backtracked on not recommending the two drugs after a confidential discount was reached.