Bureaucratic Shakeup and More Layoffs at Merck?

Posted in BioBusiness

The Twitterverse was buzzing with activity late last week about a possible shakeup at Merck as Roger Perlmutter takes control as its new head of R&D.  As many of you may know, Perlmutter used to work at Merck but left to become Amgen’s Executive VP of R&D when Peter Kim, the now former Head of Merck’s R&D, was hired several years

Kim’s tenure at Merck was rife with missteps, misdirection and drug approval failures. So, when Amgen replaced its CEO and Merck fired Kim, Perlmutter saw an opportunity to return to the fold with Merck now under the tutelage of CEO Ken Frazier (the man who engineered the company’s Vioxx legal strategy).

Fierce Biotech substantiated the Twitter rumors that a major shakeup may be underway at Merck. According to an article published early on Friday, a Merck spokesperson confirmed that Perlmutter is indeed shaking things up and reorganizing Merck’s R&D infrastructure.

The spokesperson said

“I can confirm that some members of management, but not all Franchise leadership, are leaving the company but are working to ensure a smooth transition.”

The departure of several senior leaders was later confirmed by the Wall Street Journal.  While not confirmed, rumors suggested that Rupert Vessey will lead Merck’s Discovery and Early Development programs.

While Merck spends close to $8 billion annually on R&D, its late stage development pipeline is thin and Perlmutter was hired to strengthen it. Changes at the top usually mean that other changes will take place among the rank and file. That said, stay tuned for possible additional layoffs among Merck R&D personnel.

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!

Merck Taps Ken Frazier as Its New CEO–The First African American to Lead a Major Pharmaceutical Company

Posted in BioBusiness

Merck has finally gone where no pharmaceutical company has ever gone before; it today named Ken Frazier, a Harvard-trained African American lawyer as its next CEO. Frazier, who joined Merck in 1992, became general counsel in 1992 and was promoted to President of Global Human  Health last April will succeed Dick Clark (the other one) who will soon reach Merck’s mandatory retirement age of 65. Frazier has always been something of a rising star and his stock (pun intended) has rapidly risen in recent years mainly because of the prominent role he played in managing the fallout from the Vioxx scandal.

While today’s announcement may have been history making, Frazier’s ascension to the top position at Merck was widely expected. Frazier has played a key role in the integration of Schering Plough, which Merck purchased almost two years ago for $42 billion.

Like Clark, Frazier is not a scientist. Given Merck’s thinning pipeline and recent setbacks with its anti-cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil, Frazier, like Clark will have his work cut out for him to restore Merck’s tarnished image to its once impeccable standing in the pharmaceutical industry.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!