The Best Biotech CEO of 2011 Is ...

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- The best biotech CEO of 2011 is Matt Emmens of Vertex Pharmaceuticals ( VRTX).

TheStreet's biotechnology readers have spoken, and Emmens, who oversaw the successful approval and launch of the hepatitis C drug Incivek and the submission of a groundbreaking cystic fibrosis drug for FDA approval garnered 33% of the vote in the Best Biotech CEO of 2011 poll.

Nicely done, Matt. Congratulations.

Now, let's address the pink elephant standing in the room wearing a lime-green tutu: How the heck did Pharmasset ( VRUS) CEO Schaefer Price, the engineer of an eye-popping $11 billion takeout of the company by Gilead Sciences ( GILD), fail to win this award? And how did he come in last, with just 11% of the vote?!

That's not right. Therefore, I'm using my prerogative as the overseer of this award to bestow upon Price special recognition for the extraordinary job he did this year. It's easy to make the case for Price being the true Best Biotech CEO of 2011. I don't mean to diminish anything accomplished by Emmens and the other nominees, but Price deserves praise for moving the field of hepatitis C therapy forward by a great big leap and also for helping his shareholders profit.

Emmens and Price can both take home the highly coveted Swanson Trophy, named in honor of Robert Swanson, Genentech's founding CEO. Seems fitting that both men share this award given the incredible year it's been for new hepatitis C therapies.

The runners-up this year were Biogen Idec's ( BIIB) George Scangos, with 25% of the vote; Spectrum Pharmaceuticals' ( SPPI) Raj Shrotriya, with 18% of the vote; and David Hung of Medivation ( MDVN), who polled 12%.

Other biotech CEOs deserving of kudos this year: Russell Plumb of Inhibitex ( INHX) for generating the second-best shareholder returns behind Pharmasset; Ariad Pharmaceutical's ( ARIA) Harvey Berger for overcoming previous "difficulties" with Wall Street and getting investors excited about the leukemia drug ponatinib; and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals' ( REGN) Len Schleifer for the company's approval and launch of Eylea.

--Written by Adam Feuerstein in Boston.

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