- Merck & Co. will tap two of its executives for promotions to fill newly created C-suite positions starting next year, after the pharma's head of global human health Adam Schechter steps down from his role at year's end.
- Schechter, a 30-year company veteran, will transition to working as a special advisor to Merck CEO Ken Frazier beginning in 2019, after which he will leave the company.
- Also effective Jan. 1, Frank Clyburn will become chief commercial officer and Michael Nally will be Merck's chief marketing officer, both new positions the company announced Tuesday as part of an organizational restructure to its executive committee.
In September, when Merck announced Frazier would stay on as CEO through at least 2019, a source familiar with the company listed Schechter by name as a potential successor, Reuters reported.
Now, that looks less likely after the company announced he would depart following a stint as Frazier's advisor. Merck will provide Schechter with 78 weeks of separation pay in addition to $1 million associated with a non-competition agreement signed by Schechter.
Since joining the company in 1998 as a sales representative, Schechter has worked his way up the corporate ladder at Merck over the past 30 years, becoming head of global human health in 2010.
"I have relied on his experience and expertise as we evolved a world-class commercial organization, spanning primary care, hospital and specialty, vaccines and oncology," Frazier said about Schechter in a Dec. 11 statement.
Notably, Schechter led the integration of Merck with Schering Plough, overseeing the welding together of the two drugmakers.
Schechter's departure may narrow the list of potential successors to Frazier.
Merck's board rescinded a mandatory retirement policy this September, which would have forced Frazier to retire at age 65. Frazier will turn 64 on Dec. 17.
At the time, Merck director Leslie Brun called CEO succession the board's top priority and the policy change allows the board "to make the best decision concerning the timing of that transition."
In the new C-suite roles, Clyburn will be promoted from president of the global oncology business, and Nally will move up from her role of leading the pharma's vaccine business.