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Forty-Nine Million Reasons to Phone It in at Work Today

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Patent cliffs are looming, profits have been dropping and pipelines are drying up – so why shouldn’t pharma CEOs bring home multi-million dollar paychecks?

FiercePharma recently put out its annual report on the top 10 salaries in the pharmaceutical world for 2009. Leading the pack (ironically) is a man who is no longer in the position that brought him this monster paycheck -- Schering-Plough’s Fred Hassan (at $49.65 million) who got bought out when Merck (MRK) made its $47 billion purchase of its rival. The man got $242,735 in a company-matched savings plan (that’s what most of the people taking these save over a lifetime if they are lucky enough to have a 401k).

Coming in at a close second is Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ) Bill Weldon with a salary of $30 million. The man has done such a bang-up job that all of the company’s consumer children’s medications had to be pulled from the shelves after being contaminated. Beyond that, Weldon has garnered himself an invitation to visit Congress because of the way the company handled the situation – including having a third party buy all of the drugs instead of recalling them. Just a typical day for Big Pharma.

Pfizer’s (PFE) Jeffrey Kindler brings in almost $15 million despite the string of failures the company has been announcing. Success is clearly not a prerequisite for being a millionaire.

If anyone out there is looking to fill one of these multi-million dollar positions -- Hey, who has two thumbs and couldn’t possibly screw up more than these guys!?
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.