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J&J, Merck & Wyeth Tops in Big Pharma CEO Pay

As proxy statements pop up on www.sec.gov,investors can get a peek at who's making what. When you go to the web site, click on "Search for company filings," then click on "Companies and other filers," enter the ticker symbol, click on "Find companies" and then open up the "14A" or proxy statement.

So far, all of the American big pharmas have filed except for Schering-Plough . The figures I'm using are from the "Total Compensation" tables, so everything (base salary, bonuses, stock, etc.) and the kitchen sink are thrown in.

Even though it's kind of a hybrid pharma/medicaldevice/consumer products company and not a

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pure-play drug company, Johnson & Johnson's Bill Weldon is king of the hill. His total compensation last year was nearly $32 million, up from $28.5 million in 2006.

Recently retired Wyeth chief Bob Essner came in second, despite the fact he took a pay cut during what was a not-so-good year for WYE. He took home $24.1 million, down from $32.8 million the year before. And his successor, Bernard Poussot, pocketed $12.6 million, nearly $2 million less than he got in '06.

Merck's Dick Clark, who talks about the company's recent stock performance and upcoming catalysts in today's Wall Street Journal nearly doubled his compensation. In 2006, Clark made $10.2 million and last year the company paid him nearly $20 million.

Eli Lilly also gave its top-two execs a pay cut last year. Sidney Taurel, who is retiring next week, made $13 million, a more than $2 million drop from 2006. And his successor, COO John Lechleiter, also saw his pay shrink by $2 million to $9.3 million.

After being named the permanent head of Bristol-Myers Squibb , Jim Cornelius got the biggest raise of his peers. He went from nearly $1.5 million in '06 to $11.3 million last year. The company stopped paying for his $25,500 monthly rent plus utilities on his Manhattan apartment last September and revealed it had picked up the tab for $85,000 in private jet fees while Cornelius was interim CEO so he could commute from his home to Bristol HQ in New York.

And then there's Pfizer's Jeff Kindler. His total compensation saw a slight pullback from $9.7 million in 2006 to $9.5 million in '07. But, the board raised his base salary by $150,000 and gave him a bonus last year equal to 212 percent of his base. In dollars, that equates to a $3.1 million bonus, but the board could have given him as much as $4.3 million extra.

Questions? Comments? Pharma@cnbc.com

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