Dr. Rajesh C. Shrotriya earned $25 million last year — millions more than Gary Loveman, Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson.
Shrotriya was the highest paid executive in the Las Vegas Valley in 2012. He earned $25.2 million in compensation, including salary, bonus, stock awards, options and benefits, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
He made his money working at a company most locals have never heard of: Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, a Henderson drug company.
But with competition from abroad and a bevy of lawsuits launched this month, Shrotriya stands to earn far less this year.
Spectrum’s global corporate headquarters is an office building on South Eastern Avenue. The company also has a research and development facility in Irvine, Calif., and international offices in Sherbrooke, Quebec, and Mumbai, India.
The small biotechnology company acquires, develops and commercializes late-stage clinical and commercial drugs, mostly those that fight cancer.
Shrotriya, 67, whom colleagues call “Dr. Raj,” lives by the Microsoft mantra of not fearing failure, but failing quickly if you do.
Shrotriya spent 18 years at Bristol-Myers Squibb. He became president of Spectrum in 2000 and CEO in 2002. He spearheaded major changes in the company’s business strategy and coordinated a structural reorganization.
A 2007 profile in the Orange County Register credited him with saving Spectrum because he worked without pay while the company struggled financially.
A clinical trial had shown one of Spectrum's drugs to be ineffective, and stock plummeted from $3.64 a share to 10 cents a share. Shrotriya’s ascension was announced around the same time. He was named CEO on a Friday. By Monday, he had laid off all but 10 of the company’s 70 employees, according to the Register.
Soon after, the company landed new financing and Shrotriya once again began receiving a paycheck. Since then, he developed partnerships with drug manufacturing companies and grew Spectrum into a company that was labeled one of the “Best Companies to Work For” in Southern California.
Shrotriya is said to be quick to jettison drugs that don’t show promise, as he is with employees who founder. He describes all Spectrum workers as "the CEOs of their own area" with the right and responsibility to do what's needed to excel, according to the Register.
On a wall in the Spectrum office hangs 52 framed photographs of employees who have signed pledges to pursue the company’s mission.
“Once a week, I look at those 52 faces,” Shrotriya told the Register. “Maybe 43 are working on all eight cylinders. Nine aren’t — three of them probably will be fired, three we can work on and three are getting there.”
A local oncologist who is working on a clinical trial with Spectrum said Southern Nevada is fortunate to have the company in its backyard, considering the state’s bid to diversify.
Dr. Matthew Schwartz, a radiation oncologist at the Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada, said his clinic is one of 11 around the country working with Spectrum on a trial for Zevalin, an injected drug that binds itself to cancer cells and delivers radiation directly to the site.
Zevalin is one of three mainstay drugs on Spectrum’s product list. The company markets two other oncology drugs, Folotyn and Fusilev.
Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang, an expert in prostate, kidney, bladder and testicular cancers at the Comprehensive Cancer Centers, said it doesn’t matter that Spectrum has a small roster, if at least one of them turns into a “one-shot miracle.”
Lately, Spectrum has been in the news for the wrong reasons.
On March 12, the company projected a weak first quarter because sales of its best-selling product, the colon cancer drug Fusilev, are dropping. Spectrum anticipates a 33 percent decline in sales of Fusilev this year compared to last year.
The Food and Drug Administration approved a version of the drug manufactured by a rival pharmaceuticals company, and a Hungarian version was approved for import.
Spectrum should still be profitable. Total revenue for the company is expected to come in at between $160 million and $180 million for 2013, thanks to the successes of Zevalin and the lymphoma drug Folotyn. But analysts had expected profits of more than $290 million.
Following the announcement, shares of Spectrum stock fell almost 40 percent, to their lowest price in more than a year.
At least 10 law firms nationwide also announced plans for class-action lawsuits against the company. The cases will be heard in U.S. District Court in Nevada.
The firms are seeking investors who bought Spectrum stock between Aug. 8 and March 12.
Spectrum officials did not return numerous calls from VEGAS INC.