Bloomberg Law
April 1, 2020, 9:30 AM

A Look At What Some of Big Pharma’s Top Lawyers Earned in 2019

Brian Baxter
Brian Baxter

Legal chiefs at pharmaceutical companies working on potential treatments for the coronavirus were among some of the highest-paid in the U.S. last year, according to a Bloomberg Law examination of 2019 proxy statements filed in recent weeks.

Amneal Pharmaceuticals Inc., a Bridgewater Township, N.J.-based company that makes the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which received emergency authorization Monday from the Food and Drug Administration to treat those suffering from Covid-19, gave a compensation package worth more than $3.65 million last year to its now former chief legal officer David Buchen.

Buchen officially stepped down Feb. 3 from his role as chief legal officer and corporate secretary and entered into a separation agreement with the generic drug company. His $1.15 million severance agreement, dated Aug. 2, was amended Nov. 4 to allow for the accelerated vesting of stock before his departure, according to Amneal’s proxy. Stephen Manzano, a former general counsel at Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., joined Amneal as its new legal chief in January. Amneal has not disclosed compensation for Manzano.

Gilead Sciences Inc., which is offering an experimental coronavirus treatment in remdesivir, an anti-viral drug it developed to fight Ebola, saw general counsel and executive vice president of corporate affairs Brett Pletcher earn more than $5.03 million in 2019. Pletcher, hired by Foster City, Calif.-based Gilead as its legal chief in 2005, took home $891,000 in salary, $1.24 million in non-equity incentive plan compensation, and $2.89 million in stock and option awards last year, per Gilead’s 2019 proxy.

Gilead also paid $7.84 million last year to former interim CEO and chief patent officer Gregg Alton. The Stanford Law School graduate left Gilead in late 2019 after two decades at the company.

AIM ImmunoTech Inc., an Ocala, Fla.-based company known as Hemispherx Biopharma Inc. until changing its name last year, inked a deal in Japan in early March to test its flagship immunological stimulant drug Ampligen as a potential treatment for the coronavirus. A 2019 proxy statement filed by AIM reveals it paid $430,102—$333,333 in cash—to COO and general counsel Peter Rodino III. AIM also agreed to raise Rodino’s base salary from $375,000 to $400,000 this year and give him a $112,500 cash bonus, according to securities filings.

Boom Times at BMS

A proxy statement filed last week by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. shows that longtime general counsel Sandra Leung was among the highest-paid legal chiefs in the pharmaceutical sector.

The New York -based company, which recently saw U.S. regulators approve a multiple sclerosis drug as it prepares to acquire Celgene Corp., paid Leung $7.52 million in 2019, a raise from the $6.24 million she received in 2018. Leung received more than $1 million in salary, nearly $1.59 million in non-equity incentive plan compensation, and $3.17 million in stock awards from BMS in 2019, according to the filing.

Bloomberg Law has already reported on the roughly $3.5 million pay package that AmerisourceBergen Corp. chief legal officer John Chou received last year, as well as the $2.62 million and $2.47 million that John Griffin and John Jenkins Jr. respectively earned in their roles as law department leaders at medical technology company Hologic Inc. and medical products maker TE Connectivity Ltd.

Other companies like Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc., Boston Scientific Corp., and Johnson & Johnson did not list their law department leaders—Ellen Chiniara, Desiree Ralls-Morrison, and Michael Ullmann, respectively—as among their highest-paid executives in 2019. Alexion did disclose that it paid $470,013 to board member Judith Reinsdorf, the current general counsel at Johnson Controls International plc. Johnson & Johnson, for its part, hopes to start human testing for its experimental coronavirus vaccine in September.

Below are 32 companies—the bottom two are tied—in the pharmaceutical, medical device, laboratory technology, and health care space and the total compensation they gave their top in-house lawyers in 2019. Listed parenthetically is the cash component of each lawyer’s compensation, a figure gleaned by tallying annual base salary, cash bonuses, and non-equity incentive plan compensation.

Charles River Laboratories International Inc. – David Johst, $6.57 million ($1.35 million in cash)
Liminal BioSciences Inc. – Patrick Sartore, $5.12 million ($842,161); Sartore is now COO for North America at Liminal and was replaced Sept. 1 as general counsel by Marie Iskra.
Crispr Therapeutics AG – James Kasinger, $4.22 million ($595,502)
Bausch Health Cos. Inc. – Christina Ackermann, $3.38 million ($1.50 million)
Baxter International Inc. – Sean Martin, $3.21 million ($1.24 million)
Stryker Corp. – Robert Fletcher, $3.15 million ($788,172)
GW Pharmaceuticals plc – Douglas Snyder, $2.89 million ($749,283)
Fate Therapeutics Inc. – Cindy Tahl, $2.82 million ($525,938)
Insmed Inc. – Christine Pellizzari, $2.71 million ($673,400)
Theravance Biopharma Inc. – Bradford Shafer, $2.47 million ($753,014)
AdapthHealth Corp. – Christopher Joyce, $2.40 million ($343,750)
Agilent Technologies Inc. – Michael Tang, $2.34 million ($927,140)
Prothena Corp. plc – Michael Malecek, $2.29 million ($492,692)
Revolution Medicines Inc. – Margaret “Peg” Horn, $2.22 million ($550,525)
Halozyme Therapeutics Inc. – Harry Leonhardt, $1.95 million ($681,152); Leonhardt left the company Jan. 3, per Halozyme’s proxy statement, and was replaced by general counsel Masaru Matsuda.
Hill-Rom Holdings Inc. – Deborah Rasin, $1.94 million ($826,515)
Aduro Biotech Inc. – Blaine Templeman, $1.75 million ($1.02 million)
Precision BioSciences Inc. – Dario Scimeca, $1.71 million ($254,430)
Owens & Minor Inc. – Nicholas Pace, $1.58 million ($852,560)
Wright Medical Group NV – James Lightman, $1.57 million ($699,616)
AMN Healthcare Services Inc. – Denise Jackson, $1.56 million ($769,054)
Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Inc. – Patrick O’Brien, $1.55 million ($671,744)
Acadia Healthcare Co. Inc. – Christopher Howard, $1.53 million ($859,692)
Kaleido Biosciences Inc. – Jerald Korn, $1.50 million ($290,552)
Enanta Pharmaceuticals Inc. – Nathaniel Gardiner, $1.49 million ($569,335)
West Pharmaceutical Services Inc. – George Miller, $1.49 million ($792,222)
Collegium Pharmaceutical Inc. – Shirley Kuhlmann, $1.45 million ($578,454)
CryoLife Inc. – Jean Holloway, $1.39 million ($533,876)
Lantheus Holdings Inc. – Michael Duffy, $1.30 million ($650,008)
PPD Inc. – B. Judd Hartman, $1.26 million ($744,704)
Revance Therapeutics Inc. – Caryn McDowell, $1.23 million ($588,489)
Osmotica Pharmaceuticals plc – Christopher Klein, $1.23 million ($414,539)

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at