M

irror, mirror, on the wall, who are the top-earning CEOs of them all?

A new report from the Associated Press and the research firm Equilar has some answers, and once again, many of the highest earners among execs running large companies are pharma and health care CEOs.

Consider Dr. Leonard S. Schleifer, the head of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, based in Tarrytown, N.Y. His total compensation in 2015? More than $47 million. If he were working at New York state’s minimum wage — $9 an hour — it would have taken him well over 5 million hours to earn that much. That’s about 600 years of work without stopping to eat or sleep.

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(Regeneron, by the way, just announced it’ll spend $100 million over the next decade to sponsor the nation’s largest high school science competition.)

Next on the list is Dr. Jeffrey M. Leiden, of Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Boston, at $28 million. That actually represents a pretty hefty pay cut for Leiden. He earned more than $36 million in 2014, which raised a few eyebrows given that the company had turned a profit just once in the previous quarter-century.

Larry J. Merlo, of CVS Health, clocks in at number 3 among health-care execs. His total compensation last year was just shy of $23 million — a 6 percent drop from the year before.

Here are the top 20 earners in the health care field, from the AP and Equilar, which analyzed CEO pay at  hundreds of companies on the S&P 500:

  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

Total CEO compensation includes salary, bonus, stock and stock option awards, and other perks.

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  • You have to understand these people do not give a damn about the common people. It’s a game to them. Let’s see who can make the most and let’s see how fast we can own it all.

  • Avarice & greed will be the end of the American dream. How many cancer patients had to die to give out these salaries? It’s harder for a rich man to go to heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. A needle in Jesus’ time was a small gate for sheep. Blood is on their hands. Funny how they always quote costs of research. Doesn’t Europe & Canada research. My wife is Italian and they are ranked #1 in healthcare. Who knows why? All I know is America is ranked with 3rd world countries in healthcare. Go figure.

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