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New chief executive for Merck & Co

Published on 01/12/10 at 11:36am

Kenneth Frazier is to be the next chief executive of Merck & Co from 1 January 2011 following his election by the board.

Currently president of the company, he replaces Richard Clark, who has held the chief executive’s post for five years and will now become Merck’s chairman.

A lawyer by training, Frazier joined the group in 1992, has considerable operational experience and said he was “looking ahead to a period of dramatic industry change”.

President since April, he oversaw the integration of the company’s pharma and vaccine business as well as manufacturing, supply and research, following the merger with Schering Plough last November.

His appointment then meant he took over one of the joint roles held by Clark, making Frazier the company’s de facto number two and thus suggesting he was on course to the top job.

From 2007 he was executive vice president and president, Global Human Health. His new appointment is the result of a “long-term, thoughtful succession planning process”, the company says.

Frazier’s “strategic vision” and status as a “proven executive” are among the key reasons for his elevation, according to Merck.

He is the right man to lead Merck “into a new era of global health care”, said Clark. The company has made no secret of its ambitions in emerging markets such as China and Latin America.

Earlier this year, Frazier indicated that he wants sales from these territories to grow to more than 25% of total pharma and vaccine sales over the next three years.

His responsibility “will be to enable Merck colleagues to focus their considerable talent, creativity and commitment on meeting the changing needs of our global customers”, Frazier said.

Clark led the $49 billion Schering Plough merger in 2009 and has overseen the launches of major brands such as Isentress, Gardasil and Januvia over the past five years.

Frazier will continue as president and as a member of the board.

Adam Hill

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