- Frank Clyburn, a top Merck & Co. executive who oversees large portions of the drugmaker's business, will depart next month to take up a CEO job at IFF, a large New York-based manufacturer of ingredients in the food, fragrance and health industries.
- Clyburn's last day at Merck will be Feb. 1 and his replacement will be named in "the coming weeks," the pharmaceutical company said in a Thursday statement. Clyburn, who joined Merck in 2008 and helped build its cancer drug business, currently serves as president of human health, managing marketing and commercial operations for all of Merck's drugs and vaccines.
- At IFF, also known as International Flavors & Fragrances, Clyburn will succeed CEO Andreas Fibig, effective Feb. 14. IFF recently merged with DuPont's nutrition and biosciences business, creating an international conglomerate spanning multiple industries that expects to generate roughly $11.5 billion in sales this year.
Clyburn was reportedly a top candidate to replace longtime Merck CEO Ken Frazier, who stepped down last summer after a decade running the pharma giant. Instead, the job went to former CFO Robert Davis, a Merck veteran who assumed the position July 1.
Soon after Davis was named Frazier's successor, Mike Nally, then head of Merck human health and another candidate for the chief executive role, left the company to become a partner at Flagship Pioneering and CEO of Generate Biomedicines, a biotech startup backed by the venture firm. Clyburn stepped up to fill Nally's position, which he's held since.
With his upcoming departure, the top ranks of Merck leadership will look more different than they have in years, part of a changing of the guard brought on by the exit of Frazier. Merck's well-known and respected R&D head Roger Perlmutter had previously retired as well.
"I am extremely appreciative of Frank’s significant contributions to our company during his fourteen years with Merck," said CEO Davis, in a statement. "Frank's strategic and operational excellence helped establish Merck as a global leader in oncology."
That legacy in oncology is a large part of Merck's business today, which is dominated by sales of the cancer immunotherapy Keytruda. Clyburn helped create Merck's global oncology business unit and ran it from 2013 to 2018, a period during which Keytruda won Food and Drug Administration approval and quickly grew to become a top-seller. The drug is approved for 18 types of cancer in the U.S. and accounted for more than a third of Merck's $35 billion in sales over the first nine months of 2021.
In a statement announcing Clyburn's hire, IFF cited his experience building the oncology business unit and helping Merck integrate its 2009 acquisition of Schering-Plough.
"Frank is the best executive to lead IFF into its next chapter at the pace we need," said Dale Morrison, an IFF director who will become the board's non-executive chairman, in the statement.
Shares in IFF rose by nearly 4% Thursday morning, while shares in Merck were little changed.