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Merck gets new CEO

Merck's president, Kenneth C Frazier, is to take on the additional role of chief executive officer, effective January 1

Kenneth C Frazier, Merck's president since May and an 18-year veteran of the firm, has been named by the company's board of directors to take on the additional role of chief executive officer, effective January 1 Frazier succeeds Richard T Clark, who became president and CEO in 2005 and has been with the company for nearly 40 years.

Clark will continue on as chairman of the board and will oversee the planned formation of Merck's joint venture in animal health with sanofi-aventis. 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 organisations.

Frazier took on the role of company president earlier this year, focusing largely on the integration of Merck and Schering-Plough after the $49bn merger of the two companies that took place in 2009 under Clark's leadership. As president, Frazier oversees Merck's three major divisions: Global Human Health, Merck Manufacturing Division, and Merck Research Laboratories.

Before being named president of the company, Frazier spent three years as president of Global Human Health. The executive, who holds a JD from Harvard Law School, began his career with the company in 1992 as vice president, general counsel and secretary of the Astra Merck Group. He made a name for himself as Merck's general counsel during the company's legal troubles after the painkiller Vioxx (rofecoxib) was pulled from the market due to safety issues.

Looking forward, Frazier made clear that more change is on the horizon for the recently merged company. "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," he declared.

30th November 2010

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