A biotech billionaire known for his showy promises to revolutionize health care received a huge pay package last year, documents show.
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong received stocks and stock options worth almost $150 million from NantKwest Inc., where he serves as chief executive. Bloomberg first reported details of his pay package Wednesday.
That pay package is eye-popping for the industry: The highly compensated CEOs of Vertex, Allergan, and Bristol-Myers Squibb each made less than $40 million in 2014, according to Fierce Biotech. The best-paid CEO that year, Len Schleifer of Regeneron, took home $42 million.
But Soon-Shiong isn’t guaranteed to pocket the full $150 million — or anything close to that. Nearly all the pay package comes in the form of stock options. And NantKwest’s stock has dropped precipitously, from a high of nearly $35 a share when it went public in July of 2015 to less than $9 a share on Wednesday.
Soon-Shiong, who draws just a $1 annual salary, received $132 million in stock options, $15 million in restricted stock, and a bonus of nearly $390,000 last year, Bloomberg reported.
A co-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, Soon-Shiong is already a billionaire many times over, with a net worth that Bloomberg estimates at $9.8 billion. Forbes has called him the world’s richest doctor.
He made headlines earlier this year when he launched the National Immunotherapy Coalition, which pledged to bring together rival biotech and pharma companies to accelerate immunotherapy treatments for cancer. The initiative is dubbed the Cancer MoonShot 2020, but it is separate from Vice President Joe Biden’s own cancer moonshot project.
NantKwest consists of several interrelated companies that aim to develop personalized therapies for patients by crunching a slew of data about their DNA and health. The company’s website boasts that it draws on “the inventive spirit of Thomas Edison or Leonardo Da Vinci” but at “the scale of Bell Labs.”
Soon-Shiong has drawn praise as a visionary, but critics also call him a showman who promises more than he can deliver.
This week, he’ll be at the Vatican for a panel discussion on cancer vaccines hosted by the Pontifical Council for Culture.