Merck scouts replacements for CEO Frazier less than a year after scrapping retirement rule: report

It was less than a year ago that Mercks board scrapped a policy that CEOs must retire at the age of 65 in a move designed to keep Ken Frazier around longer. Now, the company is scouting replacements for the long-tenured helmsman, Bloomberg reports. Merck is preparing for Frazier’s exit and has kicked off a search for potential replacements with a preference for an internal candidate, the news service says, citing sources familiar with the process. The drugmaker is also preparing for the exit of R&D head Roger Perlmutter, according to the report. A Merck representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from FiercePharma. Frazier joined Merck in 1992 and has served as CEO since 2011; he’s also the board’s chairman. Last year, the company’s board did away with a rule that CEOs must retire at the age of 65, allowing Frazier to stay on past his birthday in December. In recent years, Frazier has presided over a period of growth fueled partly by the megablockbuster cancer med Keytruda, whose 2018 sales passed $7 billion for the year. But recently, some analysts and investors have questioned how Merck plans to grow beyond the successful med. Merck's sales last year grew 5% to $42.3 billion. One Bloomberg source listed the drugmaker’s chief commercial officer Frank Clyburn, CFO Robert Davis and chief marketing officer Michael Nally as potential CEO replacements.

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