How do doctors become billionaires

PANDEMIC BILLIONAIRE

The corona pandemic was and is the impetus for numerous developments in the health industry - above all vaccines and various agents for treating the disease. Along with that, there are now a number of new billionaires.

After the first case of Covid-19 was reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, the first approvals for vaccines against the viral disease were applied for about a year later. In the wake of the pandemic around the world, there are now a number of new billionaires - when investors got involved in companies developing vaccines, treatments, medical devices, and everything in between, the wealth of many players grew significantly .

The year's most notable additions are scientists Uğur Şahin and Stéphane Bancel, who are behind the two most successful vaccines against the coronavirus (one developed by Pfizer and German biotech company Biontech, the other by Massachusetts-based Moderna) - their net worth has increased by leaps and bounds since January 2020.

Almost unknown at the beginning of 2020, both men are now multiple billionaires. Biontech CEO Şahin, who founded the company together with his wife Özlem Türeci, the company's medical director - she owns no shares in the company - is now USD 4.8 billion. heavy.

His French counterpart at Moderna, Stéphane Bancel, is worth $ 5.2 billion. The meteoric rise of Moderna also spawned two more billionaires among its early investors: Harvard professor Timothy Springer and MIT scientist Robert Langer. And: The Italian Sergio Stevanato, a new billionaire and majority shareholder of the private Stevanato Group, which manufactures glass vials for several dozen vaccine projects around the world, benefited from the vaccines.

But it's not just vaccine developments that generated new fortunes: companies developing antibody treatments and drugs to help doctors fight the virus have also benefited. Carl Hansen, CEO of Canadian biotech company Abcellera, is now $ 3 billion after his company went public on December 11, 2020 and was hugely successful with the approval of his antibody treatment developed with pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. Even the companies that work behind the scenes to help larger companies test new drugs and devices have hit new highs in their stock prices. August Troendle, founder and CEO of Cincinnati-based contract research company Medpace, reached $ 1.3 billion in net worth in late 2020 as the company's shares rose nearly 70% since the beginning of the year.

 

Net worth: $ 7.1 billion
Source of Wealth: Surgical Products

 

Net worth: $ 6 billion
Source of wealth: biotech

 

Net worth: $ 5.2 billion
Source of wealth: Moderna

Bancel, a French national, became CEO of Massachusetts-based Moderna in 2011 after leaving his previous job as CEO of French diagnostics company Biomérieux. He owns about 6% of Moderna; a decline of about 9% after selling more than a million shares and becoming a billionaire while the company's shares rose more than 550% since the start of the year. On December 18, the Moderna vaccine against Covid-19 was approved as the second vaccine after the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine. The first doses were given in the USA.

 

Net worth: $ 4.8 billion
Source of wealth: Biontech

The doctor of Turkish origin founded the company Biontech in Mainz in 2008 together with his wife Özlem Türeci, who acts as the company's Chief Medical Officer. He owns approximately 17% of the company's stock. Biontech's shares are up 160% since January, driven by the successful Covid-19 vaccine developed in partnership with Pfizer. The first cans were shipped on December 8th in the UK and December 14th in the US. Before founding Biontech, Şahin and Türeci founded the biopharmaceutical company Ganymed Pharmaceuticals in 2001, which they sold to the Japanese company Astellas Pharma in 2016 for around US $ 460 million.

 

Net worth: $ 4.5 billion
Source of wealth: medical equipment

 

Net worth: $ 4 billion
Source of wealth: pharmaceuticals

 

Net worth: $ 3.8 billion
Source of wealth: pharmaceuticals

Canadian Yuan Liping owns 24% of one of China's leading vaccine producers, Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products, after she divorced the company's chairman (and billionaire) Du Weimin in June. The split instantly made the Shenzhen-based woman the richest woman in Canada. Kangtai's stock is up 90% since early 2020. The billionaire worked as a manager and director in the company from 2012 to 2015 and has been the director of a Kangtai subsidiary, Beijing Minhai Biotechnology, since March 2017. Kangtai is the exclusive Chinese manufacturer of the vaccine, which was developed by Astra Zeneca and Oxford University - with a contract to produce over 200 million doses. However, the company has a checkered history: in 2013, its hepatitis B vaccine was linked to the deaths of 17 infants. A government investigation fizzled out, and critics were reportedly pressured to withdraw negative articles. A representative from Shenzhen Kangtai was unavailable for comment following a request.

 

Net worth: $ 3.2 billion
Source of wealth: pharmaceuticals

 

Net worth: $ 3.2 billion
Source of wealth: pharmaceuticals

 

Net worth: $ 3.1 billion
Source of wealth: pharmaceuticals

 

Net worth: $ 3 billion
Source of wealth: medical equipment

 

Net worth: $ 3 billion
Source of wealth: Abcellera

Hansen is the CEO and co-founder of Abcellera, a Vancouver-based biotech company that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify promising antibody treatments for disease. He founded the company in 2012. Until 2019, he also worked as a professor at the University of British Columbia. Hansen resigned from the professorship to concentrate full-time on Abcellera. That decision seems to have paid off, as Hansen's 23% stake earned him a place in the billionaires' club after Abcellera's successful IPO on the Nasdaq on December 11th.

 

Net worth: $ 2.8 billion
Source of wealth: health

 

Net worth: $ 2.8 billion
Source of wealth: pharmaceuticals

 

Net worth: $ 2.6 billion
Source of wealth: Moderna

The immunologist and professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at Harvard University was one of the earliest investors in Moderna in 2010 when he poured about $ 5 million into the young company. He owns shares of 3.5%. Springer is an active investor in the field of biotechnology with smaller stakes in the listed companies Scholar Rock and Morphic Therapeutic, which arose from his research with postdocs from his laboratory at Harvard. He made his first major cash in 1999 when he sold Leukosite, a biotech company founded in 1993, to Millennium Therapeutics for $ 635 million.

 

Net worth: $ 2.5 billion
Source of wealth: medical equipment

Hu is the chairman of Contec Medical Systems, a medical device manufacturer based in the northeast China port city of Qinhuangdao. He floated the company on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in August and owns nearly half of the shares, which are up nearly 150% since the IPO. Contec generates more than 70% of its sales overseas and manufactures a range of medical products such as stethoscopes and blood pressure monitors for hospitals.

 

Net worth: $ 2.5 billion
Source of Wealth: Medical Tests

 

Net worth: $ 2.2 billion
Source of wealth: medical equipment

 

Net worth: $ 2.2 billion
Source of Wealth: Clinical Diagnostics

 

Net worth: $ 2 billion
Source of wealth: medical packaging

Stevanato is President of the Italian Stevanato Group, a medical packaging company and the world's second largest manufacturer of glass vials, as well as a major supplier of vials for more than 40 Covid-19 vaccines. The company was founded in 1949 by Sergio's father Giovanni on the outskirts of Venice and is now run by Sergio's children Franco and Marco, who are CEO and Vice-President respectively. The US $ 700 million company (sales) is also the world's largest manufacturer of insulin pens (a pen-shaped tool for injecting insulin) and machines for the production of vials, syringes, and other glass products.

 

Net worth: $ 1.9 billion
Source of wealth: Moderna

Known as the "Edison of Medicine" for his pioneering work in the field of biomedical engineering, Langer is Professor of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a founding investor in Moderna - which is right across from his Cambridge office - in 2010 and has never sold a stock. He also owns minor stakes in listed biotech start-ups SQZ Biotechnologies and Frequency Therapeutics, both founded by postdocs from his laboratory, and holds more than 1,400 patents that have been licensed more than 400 times to pharmaceutical and medical companies.

 

Net worth: $ 1.36 billion
Source of wealth: pharmaceuticals

Godha started out as a chartered accountant before entering the pharmaceutical industry in 1975 when he and the family of Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan acquired Mumbai-based drug company Ipca Labs. The share price of the company, which makes generics and pharmaceutical ingredients, nearly doubled this year, in part due to increased production and sales of the controversial anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, touted as a potential cure at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, before the World Health Organization advised against its use as it had little to no effect in reducing mortality from Covid-19.

 

Net worth: $ 1.3 billion
Source of Wealth: Pharmaceutical Services

Troendle is the CEO and founder of Cincinnati-based Medpace, which conducts contract work and clinical studies for pharmaceutical companies that develop drugs and medical devices. Before founding Medpace in 1992 and going public in 2016, the University of Maryland-trained doctor worked in clinical development at the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis and as a medical review officer at the FDA. Medpace's laboratories cover the full spectrum of pharmaceutical services; this ranges from performing swab and antibody tests for Covid-19 for external clinics to handling complex clinical studies for drug manufacturers working on new vaccines and treatments. Forbes estimates that Troendle, who owns about 21% of Medpace's stock, is now worth about $ 1.3 billion. This makes him the youngest healthcare entrepreneur to join the Billionaires Club in 2020.

 

Text: Giacomo Tognini / Forbes US
Photo: Jens Kristian Balle / Forbes US, Drew Hyman / Timothy Springer, Florian Gaertner / Photo library via Getty Images, Steven Ferdman / Getty Images, Medpace, Pat Greenhouse / The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The article appeared in our January / February 2021 edition “Innovation & Research”.