Frazier to step down as Merck CEO

Feb. 5, 2021

Widely-admired Merck chief executive officer Kenneth Frazier will retire effective June 30, the company announced.

While rumors have swirled for years that Frazier, now aged 66, was laying the groundwork for his departure, he has now officially announced that he will step down after a decade at the helm. Frazier will be succeeded as CEO by Chief Financial Officer Robert Davis and will continue to serve on Merck’s board as executive chairman “for a transition period."

Known for being approachable and straightforward, in recent years Frazier became an outspoken champion of equality and social justice. In 2017, Frazier was the first pharma exec to resign from President Trump's American Manufacturing Council, following Trump's initially weak response to violence at the white supremacists rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, setting off a wave of defections. Frazier has frequently called upon business leaders to be a “unifying force” to help solve many of the racial inequalities in America by creating new opportunities and jobs.

While Frazier has declined to share his future plans, he told CNBC that he is interested in public service, but not serving as an elected official.

Read the Merck press release