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It’s been a roller-coaster year in biopharma. The Food and Drug Administration set a new record for drug approvals, and investors bought a record number of biotech initial public offerings. But the performance of those IPOs has been mixed and the most closely followed biotech stock index is negative for the year. For all the volatility on the business side of biotech, the industry’s ability to translate science into new medicines marches on — for now.

The end of the year also offers an opportunity: To determine the best biopharma CEO of the year. As in the past, this process is about more than just whimsy. I pored over spreadsheets, dug deep into medical journals, stared at stock charts, and consulted others while coming up with a list of finalists. A few worthy candidates didn’t make the cut.


At the end of this post, you’ll have the opportunity to vote for your favorite. Our champion will be announced next Monday. Oh, and stay tuned tomorrow for the worst CEO nominees.

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  • I first hand saw the great work and engagement of the CF community under his leadership . I highly applaud his work, these drugs while expensive are available through sponsored programs to all in the uS who need . Outside US is a whole other situation the people at vrtx work tirelessly for CF and other rare disease pts and are the true pioneers of personalized medicihr. After almost a decade I still get chills when I hear the accolades of such a great company

  • If I was a shareholder I could see that Jeffrey Leiden is a success. But the World isn’t just about money and as CEO of a company making a drug that is the only effective treatment for a cruel and life threatening genetic illness it is both immoral and poorly reflects on his performance that the company does not have global patient access as a goal – secondary or otherwise. When operating in a market of unmet clinical need, where the consequence of not treating is death, I feel that a CEO has a moral responsibility that comes with the award of patent rights. Otherwise, public health interests will eventually over-ride the company’s monopoly and a CEO putting his organisation in that position has poor judgement in the long term. While excessive pricing to gain huge profits from a small section of your marketplace is a great business strategy for the likes of Gucci, when applied to life saving medicines it is a travesty of justice. With great power comes great responsibility Mr Leiden. As I saw on a tweet earlier today, I hope your spirits past, present and future come to visit you this Christmas and you see the light for a change in corporate strategy in 2019.

  • Amazing work by Jeff Leiden to develop Vertex’s drugs. Disgusting that their excessive pricing means they are not available for 50% of those outside the USA, including the world’s second biggest CF population, the UK.

    • Only 60% of CF patients in the world have access to CF Medicines due to excessive pricing. Amazing work in developing them, but Leiden certainly isn’t helping the community that is making him, & Vertex, incredibly wealthy.

    • You must be having a laught. Leiden’s focus is on squeezing every last dime he can get out of the insurance companies. If that makes his meds too expensive for 40% of the world’s CF patients to access, that’s just too bad (for them, that is)

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