Merck on November 30 announced that its board of directors has elected Kenneth C. Frazier, currently Merck’s president, as chief executive officer (CEO) and president, as well as a member of the board, effective January 1, 2011. Frazier will succeed Richard T. Clark, who has served as Merck’s CEO since 2005 and will continue as chairman of the board. Merck said the November 30 announcement is the result of a long-term, thoughtful succession planning process led by Clark and the board of directors.
"Merck's board of directors and I have great confidence in Ken as the right CEO to lead this exceptional company into a new era of global health care," said Richard T. Clark, Merck CEO and chairman. "Ken has made considerable contributions to our business every step of the way during his 18 years with Merck. His intellect, drive and deep understanding of our industry will greatly benefit Merck and our mission of improving and saving lives through scientific innovation. Ken is a gifted leader who has what it will take to ensure Merck's success as we face unprecedented change and enormous opportunity."
Speaking on behalf of Merck’s board of directors, William B. Harrison, lead director, said, “During the board’s succession planning process, it became clear to us that Ken Frazier has the strategic vision, operational experience and passion to lead Merck. Ken is a proven executive who has played a key role in shaping Merck’s business strategy. With his understanding of the global health care environment, the board is confident in Ken’s ability to take the helm at Merck and guide the continued implementation of our long-term strategy. Furthermore, thanks to the close partnership Ken and Dick have developed over the last decade, we expect this leadership transition to proceed smoothly and produce great results for Merck.”
Since his appointment as Merck’s president in April, Frazier has focused on improving the effectiveness of the company’s three largest divisions – pharmaceutical and vaccine sales and marketing, research and development, manufacturing and supply – and their post-merger integration. Under his leadership, Merck has driven the growth of key products, expanded its global reach, launched new products, and advanced a robust late-stage R&D pipeline. In his three years as president of Global Human Health, Frazier helped design and implement a ground-breaking, new global commercial sales model, maintained solid sales momentum during merger integration, dramatically improved the division's cost structure, and redeployed resources into high growth emerging markets.
Commenting on his appointment as CEO, Frazier said, “I consider it a privilege to serve Merck in this capacity, and I am honored and excited about the opportunity. My immense respect for the people of Merck only reinforces my strong optimism about our future. Merck employees truly are our greatest advantage. As CEO, my responsibility will be to enable Merck colleagues to focus their considerable talent, creativity and commitment on meeting the changing needs of our global customers.
"Looking ahead to a period of dramatic industry change, I also am fortunate to work with a strong and deeply experienced group of senior management colleagues. I look forward to working with Dick, the board and our executive team to ensure that Merck continues to operate with the highest levels of integrity and scientific excellence, meeting the needs of patients worldwide and building long-term value for our shareholders.
"The board, Dick and I are aligned on our priorities, and the need to focus on sustainable growth for the future. For Merck to be a leader in the future, we must continue to adjust our operating model and achieve a level of transformation never before seen in our industry," Frazier added.
As chairman, Clark will focus on leadership of the board of directors, provide strategic counsel to Frazier, oversee the planned formation of Merck's joint venture in animal health with sanofi-aventis and represent Merck with key external organizations.
Harrison said, “We want to thank Dick for his exceptional leadership as CEO and congratulate him for Merck’s remarkable performance during the past five years. When Dick was appointed CEO in 2005, the company was facing a number of significant challenges. The strategic plan Dick put in place ultimately turned the company around and restored confidence in Merck's future. In addition, Dick led the successful merger and integration of Merck and Schering-Plough, positioning the company as a stronger, more diversified global healthcare leader for the future. The board looks forward to benefiting from Dick's continued contributions as chairman.”
“It has been an honor to serve as Merck’s CEO for the past five years, and to work with the finest employees and management team in the industry," said Clark. "Speaking both as CEO and as an employee of 38 years, I am truly proud of our exceptional record of discovering and developing medical breakthroughs for patients, our contributions to advancing health care around the world and delivering value to shareowners. As chairman, I look forward to collaborating with Ken and our board of directors to help Merck achieve new levels of success,” he added.
Clark led the transformative $49 billion 2009 merger between Merck and Schering-Plough, and under his leadership, the combined company has delivered a successful performance in its first year, meeting all of its global integration and synergy goals. From 2008 to 2009, Clark served as board chairman of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), where he led the industry's efforts to strengthen the group's marketing code, tighten direct-to-consumer advertising principles and enhance the transparency of company interactions with physicians. After being named CEO in 2005, Clark stabilized Merck by setting its strategic direction and oversaw successful launches of innovative drugs like ISENTRESS (raltegravir) Tablet, GARDASIL ([Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent (Types 6, 11, 16, and 18) Vaccine, Recombinant] and JANUVIA (sitagliptin). Prior to becoming president and CEO, Clark was president of the Merck Manufacturing Division, with responsibility for Merck’s global network of manufacturing operations, information services and operational excellence organizations worldwide.
Frazier continued, “I also want to thank Dick, both for his mentorship and for the confidence he has shown in me. On behalf of all Merck colleagues, I'd like to express our collective gratitude for the many contributions Dick has made to our company through his initiative and guidance. Dick’s vision and leadership have truly made Merck the global leader that it is today. I am pleased to be able to continue my strong partnership with Dick as chairman, and to continue to have the benefit of his counsel.”