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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The CEOs of 23 prominent health care companies earned more than $632 million in 2018, based on the actual value of cashed-out stock, according Axios' most recent tally of federal securities documents.

The bottom line: Executives of publicly traded companies get paid mostly in stock, so their incentives are to raise the stock price as much as possible. In health care, that often means contradicting the industry's line of "patient-centered care."

Some early takeaways:

  • The highest-paid pharmaceutical executive so far for 2018 was Pfizer’s outgoing CEO, Ian Read, who made $47 million.
  • The two CEOs with the highest overall pay were still HCA Healthcare's R. Milton Johnson ($109 million) and Intuitive Surgical's Gary Guthart ($99 million).
  • Flying under the radar as one of the highest-paid health care executives was Ari Bousbib, who heads the pharmaceutical data and consulting company IQVIA. He made $77 million in 2018 and has made $137 million since 2016, when Quintiles and IMS Health merged to form IQVIA.
  • When Express Scripts CEO Tim Wentworth joined Cigna last year, he took home $9 million in retention pay and agreed to "perpetual" agreements to never divulge anything about the company.

Go deeper: Follow our health care executive pay tracker

Go deeper

California father and son accused of "reckless arson" in Calder Fire

Firefighters at the Caldor Fire along Highway 89 west of Lake Tahoe, California, in September. Photo: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California officials said they arrested a father and son Wednesday on suspicion of starting the Caldor Fire, which threatened the Lake Tahoe area as it burned for over two months earlier this year. They deny any wrongdoing.

Why it matters: The wildfire was the 15th-biggest ever recorded in California, razing more than 1,000 structures, forcing thousands to evacuate and injuring five people as it burned across nearly 222,000 acres of land in El Dorado, Amador and Alpine counties.

New Zealand aims to create smoke-free generation with tobacco ban

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a December news conference in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand officials announced Thursday legislative plans to outlaw smoking by making it illegal to sell or supply tobacco products to the next generation as part of a lifetime ban.

Why it matters: "People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco," Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said in a statement announcing the proposed law, part of the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan.

FDA approves AstraZeneca COVID drug for people with immune problems

Photo: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for an AstraZeneca COVID-19 antibody drug for people with compromised immune systems.

Why it matters: The drug, Evusheld, is the first antibody therapy authorized in the U.S. to prevent coronavirus symptoms before virus exposure.