Merck chairman to retire, company gets approval for diabetic-cholesterol drug

Richard T. Clark, chairman and former CEO of Merck & Co. of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, will retire from the company and its board of directors effective Dec. 1 . Kenneth C. Frazier, the current president and CEO, will become the new chairman.

Frazier joined the drug company in 1992 as general counsel. He presided over its defense of Vioxx product-liability litigation, which was wrapped up for the most part in 2007. The company withdrew the drug in 2004, after it was tied to an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks.


Clark, a 39-year veteran of the drug company, had served as CEO for five years through 2010 and as chairman since 2007. He led the $41 billion acquisition of Schering-Plough Corp. in 2009.

Separately, Merck has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a drug that treats type 2 diabetes and cholesterol in one medication. Juvisync is expected to be launched in the next few weeks. The pill combines Zocor, from the cholesterol family known as statins, with Merck’s type 2 diabetes pill Januvia.

About 20 million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes and they often have high cholesterol levels as well, according to a statement from the FDA.

“This is the first product to combine a type 2 diabetes drug with a cholesterol -lowering drug in one tablet,” said Dr. Mary H. Parks, director of the Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “However, to ensure safe and effective use of this product, tablets containing different doses of sitagliptin and simvastatin in fixed-dose combination have been developed to meet the different needs of individual patients.”

Richard T. Clark, chairman, will retire from the company and the Merck board of directors effective Dec. 1

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