How do you choose a Best Biopharma CEO in a year when everything went straight downhill?
Very carefully. A big net also helps.
I went into this process with low expectations, so color me pleasantly surprised to find a group of biotech and pharma CEOs who truly deserve to be honored this year. The negative investor sentiment for health care stocks in 2016 presented a particularly difficult environment to accomplish anything well. Each of the CEOs below met the challenge and succeeded.
I chose not to pick a winner. Instead, all five of the CEOs will share the "best" honor equally.
Congratulations to them all.
Ken Frazier -- Merck (MRK)
You need a combination of smarts and good luck to succeed as a Big Pharma CEO.
Frazier and his Merck scientists were smart to choose a more conservative approach to testing their cancer immunotherapy drug Keytruda in newly diagnosed lung cancer patients. They got lucky on Aug. 5 when Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) , taking a riskier approach to testing their own competing cancer immunotherapy Opdivo, in the same type of lung cancer patients, suffered a big setback.
In an instant, a commercial opportunity in lung cancer that could reach $8 billion in sales annually landed on Merck's plate. Bristol was shut out.
Merck's stock price rose 10% on the day of Bristol's setback and share are up 18% for the year, the best performance amongst large pharmaceutical companies.