Top Pharma CEO Salaries in 2016

It’s no secret that the pharmaceutical industry is booming with advanced innovation, development, drug distribution, and even pharmaceutical sales jobs. It’s also booming with top-level earnings. A recent study uncovered that many of the nation’s highest earners among executives running large companies are indeed pharmaceutical and healthcare CEOs.

According to Equilar, a California firm that researches and analyzes executive compensation, median pay for healthcare and pharmaceutical executives amounted to $14.5 million in 2015, higher than amounts earned by leaders in any other sector. Median compensation for all CEOs in the study, which looked at pay packages of 341 executives at S&P 500 companies across multiple sectors, was $10.8 million (International Business Times).

Similarly, 2014 also saw executives at healthcare companies earn the highest median pay of any industry in the country. That year, the U.S. spent $3 trillion – 17.5 percent of the economy and $9,523 per person — on healthcare. It would seem that a good portion of that money ultimately ended up in the pockets of the top-level executives of the companies that treated patients. A noticeable trend is developing as it relates to the CEOs of pharmaceutical companies and their compensation packages and 2016 looks to continue more of the same.

The bottom line is clear: in the realm of pharmaceuticals and healthcare, drugs are big business but so is money. Here are some of the top paid pharma CEOs and executives in the field today and what they take home in total compensation:

  1. Leonard S. Schleifer, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, $47,462,526

  2. Jeffrey M. Leiden, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, $28,099,826

  3. Larry J. Merlo, CVS Health, $22,855,374

  4. Robert J. Hugin, Celgene, $22,472,912

  5. Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson, $21,128,866

  6. Michael F. Neidorff, Centene, $20,755,103

  7. Alan B. Miller, Universal Health Services, $20,427,309

  8. Kenneth C. Frazier, Merck & Co., $19,898,438

  9. Miles D. White, Abbott Laboratories, $19,410,704

  10. John C. Martin, Gilead Sciences, $18,755,952

  11. Richard A. Gonzalez, AbbVie, $18,534,310

  12. Heather Bresch, Mylan, $18,162,852

  13. David M. Cordani, Cigna, $17,307,672

  14. Mark T. Bertolini, Aetna, $17,260,806

  15. George A. Scangos, Biogen, $16,874,386

  16. Robert L. Parkinson, Baxter International, $16,648,750

  17. John C. Lechleiter, Eli Lilly & Co, $16,562,500

  18. Marc N. Casper, Thermo Fisher Scientific, $16,307,079

  19. Robert A. Bradway, Amgen, $16,097,714

  20. George Paz, Express Scripts Holding, $14,835,587

Most people are aware that drug prices are high and with executive compensation packages like these, it’s hard to not see where some of that money is going. With the continued pricing power and influence of the market that many of the larger pharmaceutical companies have, odds are that top-level salaries will follow suit.

So, what does this all mean for job-seekers? In response to increased needs for medicine as well as potentially rising drug costs, there are growing numbers of pharmaceutical sales jobs available in many parts of the country. Land one of these jobs and who knows? You might just find yourself working your way up the corporate ladder and joining the ranks of many of the CEOs listed above.