Merck names new CEO

Merck & Company has named Kenneth Frazier, a lawyer known for his strategy in defending the pain drug Vioxx, as its new chief executive officer.

Merck is only the latest in an increasing number of pharmaceutical companies that have chosen someone without laboratory experience as leader, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The move comes as issues like defending patents and controlling costs have become of paramount importance, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Frazier was the mastermind behind Merck's Vioxx defense strategy, which saw the company choose to fight each case against it separately, instead of as a joint action. Though widely controversial at the time, Frazier’s plan is seen as aiding the company in minimizing losses. The plan also drew an aggressive line against lawsuits, which is important for pharmaceutical companies worried about legal liabilities.

Frazier is a Harvard Law School Graduate and has been at the company since 1992. He served as its general counsel from 1999 to 2007.  

In April 2010, Frazier was named Merck's president in a move that signaled his potential rise to the top of the organization.

Frazier will remain the company’s president and serve as a member of the board. He is replacing Richard Clarke, who has been in the position since 2005 and will remain chairman of the board.