Leonard Schleifer

About Leonard Schleifer

Who is it?: CEO and Founder, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
Birth Year: 1953
Birth Place: Tarrytown, New York, United States
Residence: Tarrytown, New York
Education: Cornell University (BS) University of Virginia (MD PhD)
Occupation: Doctor Businessman
Known for: Founder and CEO of Regeneron
Spouse(s): Harriet Partel Schleifer
Children: Adam Schleifer David Schleifer
Parent(s): Florence Schleifer Charles Baker Schleifer

Leonard Schleifer

Leonard Schleifer was born on 1953 in Tarrytown, New York, United States, is CEO and Founder, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Leonard Schleifer cofounded drugmaker Regeneron in 1988. He remains CEO of the Tarrytown, New York company, which has been looking for a follow-up to Eylea, a treatment for macular degeneration with more than $5 billion in sales. Their big hope, cholesterol drug Praluent, has had disappointing sales and faces a patent infringement case from rival Amgen. Regeneron is now betting on a treatment for atopic dermatitis to be a big hit. Schleifer, who has most of his fortune tied up in Regeneron, grew up in Queens. He was the son of a sweater manufacturer who attended Cornell on scholarship and dreamed of a medical career but had to return to the family business. Schleifer followed his father's footsteps to Cornell and then got an M.D.-PhD degree at the University of Virginia, training with future Nobel Laureate Alfred Gilman. Regeneron now sponsors the Science Talent Search competition for high school students. It was previously run by Westinghouse, then, more recently, Intel. Schleifer competed as a teenager.
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Noticing that the biotechnology company Genentech was conducting state-of-the-art research but not on diseases of the nervous system, he determined to get into the biotechnology Business. After rebuking Gilman's efforts to recruit him as an academic, he found a sponsor in George Sing, a venture capitalist at Merrill Lynch, and obtained $1 million in seed capital. He also recruited George Yancopoulos, a 28-year-old scientist, to be his partner, and in 1988 they founded Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. After several years of trying to recruit research doctors many of whom preferred to work in academia or for large corporations, they developed their first drug to treat Lou Gehrig’s disease. It was a failure as was their second drug to treat obesity. Thereafter, they invited the former Merck & Co. CEO Roy Vagelos to be the chairman of their company to help turn the company around. He implemented two strategic changes: only invest in drugs in which the biology of the disorder is fully understood; and do not underestimate the importance of human testing to ensure that what works in the laboratory will also work in the real world.


As CEO of Regeneron, Schleifer oversaw the "approval and growth of high-priced drugs." In 2011, Regereron's first successful drug was, Eylea, for age-related macular degeneration. Eylea prevented leaky blood vessels in the eye from causing blindness. He licensed the drug to Aventis which was then bought by Sanofi which had no interest in the eye drug. Sanofi, in order to get out of its commitment, paid Regeneron $50 million and ceded the rights back to Regeneron. The drug was a blockbuster generating $838 million in its first full year and sales increased 55% to $1.3 billion in 2013 making Schleifer a Billionaire. In 2014 Eylea grossed $1.735 billion.


As CEO Schleifer received a total compensation of $41,965,424 in 2014. According to the "annual collaborative report" from Equilar and The New York Times, Schleifer ranked 15th in the May 2015 list of "200 highest-paid CEOs of large publicly traded companies." He ranked first in the list of biopharmaceutical executives with the highest total compensation.

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