Top 15 Big Pharma Paychecks of 2008

by Maureen Martino and Calisha Myers

Welcome to to our second annual look at pharma CEO salaries. Every year, executive salaries cause a flap as industry watchers compare who makes what, who got a raise and who's spending the most on air travel, security, drivers and the like. Inevitably, the numbers cause controversy. Last year's massive rounds of layoffs--along with broad criticism of CEO salaries due to economic problems--have made this year's salaries even more subject to scrutiny.

There are several notable moves in this year's ranking. With a hefty $29.5 million haul in 2008, J&J's Bill Weldon jumped two spots to number one, knocking Abbot's Miles White to second place (White's pay dropped from $33 million in 2007 to $28.3 million in 2008). Schering-Plough's Fred Hassan fell all the way down to number eleven from the number two spot last year as his pay plummeted from $30.1 million to $12.9 million. Hassan--along with Wyeth's Bernard Poussot and Sanofi's Le Fur--will not be on our list next year; Schering Plough and Wyeth were absorbed by Merck and Pfizer respectively, and Le Fur has been replaced by former GSK exec Chris Viehbacher. No CEO made over $30 million in 2008, which Weldon and White both topped in 2007.

Biotech CEOs, suchs as Amgen's Kevin Sharer and Genentech's Arthur Levinson, are not included on the Big Pharma list but will be covered in a future report on biotech executive salaries. To discover more details for yourself--or to find out what your boss is making--take a look at the list below.

1. Bill Weldon - Johnson & Johnson - $29.4M

2. Miles White - Abbott Laboratories - $28.3M

3. Bernard Poussot - Wyeth - $25M

4. Jim Cornelius - Bristol-Myers Squibb - $25M

5. Richard Clark - Merck - $19.9M

6. Robert Parkinson - Baxter International - $16M

7. Daniel Vasella - Novartis - $15.1M 

8. Jeffrey Kindler - Pfizer - $14.8M

9. Frank Baldino - Cephalon - $14.5M

10. John Lechleiter - Eli Lilly - $13M

11. Fred Hassan - Schering-Plough $12.9M

12. Robert  Coury - Mylan $12.5M

13. Werner Wenning - Bayer - $4.8M

14. David Brennan - AstraZeneca - $4.7M

15. Severin Schwan - Roche - $4.5M

Honorable mentions

Gerard Le Fur - Sanofi-Aventis - $3.3M

Andrew Witty - GlaxoSmithKline - $2.7M