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Merck CEO resigns from Trump post in Charlottesville protest

Frazier leaves the Manufacturing Council but J&J’s Gorksy remains for now

MSDThe CEO of Merck & Co - Ken Frazier - has resigned from Donald Trump's American Manufacturing Council in protest at the President's response to the Charlottesville violence.

Ken Frazier, who is African-American, took the decision after 32-year-old Heather Heyer was run down and killed in the Virginia town over the weekend, during a clash between white supremacist and anti-racism protesters.

Frazier made it clear his decision was a result of Trump's reaction to the violence - and particularly the decision to stop short of condemning far right groups such as the Ku Klux Klan - with Trump's immediate response referring to fault "on both sides".

That prompted swift rebukes from politicians on both sides of the political divide in the US as well Frazier's resignation, the wording of which left the reasons for this departure in no doubt.

"Our country's strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientation s and political beliefs," said Merck's CEO in a statement. "America's leaders must honour our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal."

Trump responded to news of Frazier's resignation in typical knee-jerk style, tweeting: "Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!" Merck has not however been among pharma companies singled out for price hikes, and has in fact been very transparent about its pricing strategy.

Three days after the violence - and shortly after Frazier's highly publicised exit - the President issued a statement saying: "Racism is evil - and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans."

Trump chose not to respond to questions from reporters after making the statement, and was roundly criticised afterwards for delivering a message that some considered was too little, too late.

Frazier isn’t first CEO to resign from the Council, with Disney's Bob Iger and Tesla's Elon Musk both jumping ship in the wake of Trump's decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord. And two others have now followed suit, with Intel's Brian Krzanich and Under Armour's Kevin Plank both announcing their departure yesterday.

As it stands, Johnson & Johnson's Axel Gorsky is the remaining senior pharma figure on the Manufacturing Council, and as of this morning had not revealed whether or not he will remain on board.

The spat comes as the Trump administration is reportedly in the final stages of drawing up an executive order on drug pricing.

Article by
Phil Taylor

15th August 2017

From: Sales

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