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Campaign to Fix the Debt
Company Profile
Company Name Merck
CEO Name Kenneth Frazier
CEO Compensation $13,347,652
CEO Retirement Assets $14,428,904
Underfunded Company Pension -$1,935,000,000
Annual Company Revenue $48,047,000,000
Tax Dodger ('08-'10) 11.5%
Territorial Tax Break $15,505,000,000
Federal Lobbying/Political Donations ('09-'12*) $32,397,510
Click here for sources.
2011 data unless otherwise noted.
©2013 Center for Media and Democracy

Merck is an international pharmaceutical company and publishes the industry standard Merck Drug Guide. Top competitors include Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, and Sanofi-Aventis. Top brand name pharmaceuticals include Singulair (asthma), Cozaar and Hyzaar (hypertension) and Vytorin, Zetia and Zocor (cholesteral). Merck also manufactures Januvia (type 2 diabetes), Fosamax (osteoporosis), Cosopt and Trusopt (eye disease). The company manufactures childhood and adult vaccines for measles, mumps, hepatitis, and shingles.[1]

In the fiscal year ending in December of 2011, Merck reported global sales of approximately $48 billion[2] and had 86,000 employees[3] (down from 100,000 employees in 2009, when it had $27.43 billion in sales).[4]

Access Merck's corporate rap sheet compiled and written by Good Jobs First here.

Ties to Pete Peterson's "Fix the Debt"

The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem." Merck is part of the Campaign to Fix the Debt as of February 2013.

This article is part of the Center for Media and Democracy's investigation of Pete Peterson's Campaign to "Fix the Debt." Please visit our main SourceWatch page on Fix the Debt.

About Fix the Debt
The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem." Through a special report and new interactive wiki resource, the Center for Media and Democracy -- in partnership with the Nation magazine -- exposes the funding, the leaders, the partner groups, and the phony state "chapters" of this astroturf supergroup. Learn more at and in the Nation magazine.

Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

Merck was a "Trustee" level sponsor of 2011 American Legislative Exchange Council Annual Conference, which in 2010, equated to $5,000.[5] In September 2012, it announced that would not renew its ALEC membership after 2012.[6] See ALEC Corporations for a list of for-profit corporations with ties to ALEC, current or past, and Corporations Which Have Cut Ties to ALEC for a list of those corporations that have publicly cut funding to ALEC.

About ALEC
ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's, and check out breaking news on our site.

Acquisition of Schering-Plough

Schering-Plough was a global pharmaceutical company based in New Jersey, United States. It manufactured prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, animal health products, and personal care products. Well known brand names included the allergy medications Clarinex and Nasonex. The firm also specialized in anti-inflammatory, infectious disease, cancer, cardiovascular and women's health drugs. Schering-Plough's OTC products included Claritin allergy pills, Afrin nasal sprays, Dr. Scholl's foot care products and the Coppertone sun care line. Its products were marketed in some 140 countries.[7]

In 2009, Merck agreed to acquire Schering-Plough for $41 billion. [8]

Vioxx (subsection)

See also Vioxx.

Other drug issues

Violation Tracker
Discover Which Corporations are the Biggest Violators of Environmental, Health and Safety Laws in the United States
Violation Tracker is the first national search engine on corporate misconduct covering environmental, health, and safety cases initiated by 13 federal regulatory agencies. Violation Tracker is produced by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First. Click here to access Violation Tracker.


Merck and Schering-Plough, which co-marketed the cholesterol drug Vytorin, went into damage-control mode taking out newspaper ads, reported Advertising Age in January 2008. The pharmaceutical companies' public relations campaign followed their reluctant publication of a study which revealed that neither drug in present in Vytorin reduced fatty plaque build-up in arteries. The study was completed in 2006, but Merck and Schering did not release it for 21 months, allegedly due to "complexity of the data and their own scientific concerns."

The drug companies' newspaper ads, which ran in the New York Times and USA Today, referred to the damning study as "a single study that has generated a lot of confusion." They stressed that the drugs "have been proven to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol." However, the study showed was that Vytorin was not "any better than generic Zocor in reducing the buildup of fatty plaque." Members of Congress called for an investigation into why the "massive advertisement campaign for Vytorin was allowed to continue," after the study was belatedly made public. Class-action lawsuits were file, alleging that Merck and Schering-Plough "misrepresented and withheld significant information" from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the public. [9] In July 2008, a major European study of over 1,800 patients and researchers at 173 hospitals and other sites found that Vytorin:

"was no better than placebo at lowering the risk of major cardiovascular events -- including heart attack, stroke, heart surgery and death -- in patients with aortic stenosis." Vytorin "did cut cholesterol levels about 60 percent," but that effect was previously known and is also seen when Zocor (one of two drugs that comprise Vytorin) is taken alone. The European study also observed an increase in cancer cases and deaths among patients taking Vytorin, but researchers said this was not likely due to the drug. [10]

Mercury levels and Thimerosol vaccines

In early 2005, the Los Angeles Times obtained a memo from Merck revealing that, prior to the first public disclosure, senior executives were concerned about mercury levels in vaccinations containing a widely used sterilizing agent. The March of 1991 memo revealed concerns about 6-month-old children getting a mercury dose as much as 87 times higher than guidelines for the maximum daily consumption of mercury from fish. According to Dr. Maurice R. Hilleman in a memo to the president of Merck's vaccine division:

"When viewed in this way, the mercury load appears rather large."

The memo was prepared as U.S. health authorities aggressively expanded their immunization schedule by adding five new shots for children in their first six months. Many of these shots, as well as some previously included on the schedule, contained thimerosal, an anti-bacterial compound that is nearly 50% ethyl mercury, a neurotoxin. In 1999, federal health officials disclosed that many infants were being exposed to dangerously high mercury levels, following a review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the memo revealed that Merck was aware of the concern much earlier.

As of February of 2005, over 4,200 claims have been filed in a special federal tribunal, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, by parents asserting that their children suffered autism or other neurodevelopmental disorders from mercury poisoning. Thimerosal has been largely removed from pediatric vaccines as a "precautionary measure." [11]


During 2006, five products received FDA approval, including Gardasil:

“The first vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer and genital warts caused by certain kinds of human papillomavirus.” Gardasil later became a subject of controversy when Gov. Rick Perry of Texas signed an executive order that required all girls entering the 6th grade to receive this vaccination, starting in September 2008. [12]

See also Gardasil.

Clinical trials

Tobacco issues

Merck was an early supporter of smoke-free workplaces. In 1988, Merck launched a corporate policy prohibiting smoking in all of their workplaces and that paid the full costs of approved smoking cessation classes for workers and their spouses. The policy covered over 29,000 U.S. workers. Merck CEO Roy Vagelos, M.D. stated before a Congressional hearing on March 17, 1994 that during the first eighteen months of their policy, the number of Merck employees who smoked fell by 25 percent. [13]

On April 4, 1993, William Ian Campbell, CEO of Philip Morris, wrote to Merck about Merck's nonsmoking workplace policy. Campbell explained why he believed the EPA's rating secondhand tobacco smoke a human carcinogen was flawed, and suggested a meeting to discuss "cost-effective ways to protect and respect the rights of all employees by accommodating non-smokers and smokers at Merck." In his letter, Campbell further cited the "arbitrary and damaging manner in which certain industries are made scapegoats." He suggested that PM and Merck could possibly become allies. Noel M. Howard, Director of Executive Communications at Merck wrote back to Campbell on May 14, 1995 and declined the meeting:

"Given our strong corporate commitment to a smoke-free workplace, and in light of Philip Morris' understandable interest in promoting the tobacco use, we do not believe that a meeting between representatives of our two companies would be productive." [14]

Bone Measurement Institute

The Bone Measurement Institute is a front group formed by big drug maker Merck to help expand the market for its drug Fosamax. See also Bone Measurement Institute.


Board (2020) [15]

Executive Management (2013)

As of February 2013:[16]

  • Kenneth C. Frazier - President & CEO
  • Willie A. Deese - Executive VP & President, Manufacturing
  • Richard R. DeLuca Jr. - Executive VP & President, Merck Animal Health
  • Cuong Viet Do - Executive VP & Chief Strategy Officer
  • Clark Golestani, Executive VP & Chief Information Officer
  • Mirian M. Graddick-Weir - Executive VP, Human Resources
  • Bridgette P. Heller - Executive VP & President, Consumer Care
  • Michael J. Holston - Executive VP & Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer
  • Peter N. Kellogg - Executive VP & CFO
  • Peter S. Kim, Ph.D. - Executive VP & President, Merck Research Laboratories
  • Bruce N. Kuhlik - Executive VP & General Counsel
  • Michael Rosenblatt - Executive VP & Chief Medical Officer
  • Adam H. Schechter - President, Global Human Health

Former executives include:[17]

  • Richard S. Bowles III, Ph.D. - former Executive VP & Chief Compliance Officer
  • Raymond V. Gilmartin, former CEO (total pay of $37.8 million in 2005)[18]
  • Raul E. Kohan - former Executive VP & President, Animal Health
  • J. Chris Scalet - former Executive VP, Global Services & Chief Information Officer
  • Mervyn Turner, Ph.D. - Chief Strategy Officer & Senior VP, Emerging Markets R&D

Key executives and 2010 salaries: [19]

  • Richard Clark (64), Chairman - $1,800,000
  • Kenneth Frazier (55), CEO - 1,044,688
  • Peter Kellegg (54), Executive VP & CFO - $903,978

Board members

Former board members include:[20]

  • Richard T. Clark - former chairman of the board
  • Steven F. Goldstone - retired CEO, Nabisco; non-executive chairman, ConAgra Foods, Inc.
  • Harry R. Jacobson, M.D. - Vice Chancellor Emeritus, Health Affairs, Vanderbilt University
  • William N. Kelley, M.D. - Professor, University of Pennsylvania Medical School
  • Thomas E. Shenk, Ph.D.
  • Anne M. Tatlock - Director, Fortune Brands, Inc.

Political contributions

Merck gave $$1,497,944 to federal candidates in the 2008 election cycle through its political action committee (PAC); 51% to Democrats and 49% to Republicans. [21]

Public relations & lobbying

The company spent $$6,410,000 for lobbying in 2009. Of this total, $1,530,000 was to 12 outside lobbying firms with the remainder being spent using in-house lobbyists. [22]


One Merck Drive
Whitehouse Station, NJ 08889

Phone: 908-423-1000

Fax: 908-735-1253

Web address:

Articles & sources

SourceWatch articles

Featured SourceWatch Articles on Fix the Debt


  1. Company Description: Merck, Hoovers, accessed December 2009
  2. Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK:New York): Financials, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, online corporate profile, accessed September 13, 2012
  3. Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK:New York): Snapshot, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, online corporate profile, accessed September 13, 2012
  4. Key Merck & Co., Inc. Financials, Hoovers, accessed December 2010
  5. American Legislative Exchange Council, 2011 Conference Sponsors, conference brochure on file with CMD, August 11, 2011
  6. Salvador Rizzo, Pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. to leave ALEC, New Jersey Star-Ledger, September 13, 2012
  7. Company Description: Schering-Plough, Hoovers, accessed December 2009
  8. Company Description: Merck, Hoovers, accessed December 2009
  9. Once Again, Drug Companies Caught Data Doping, PR Watch, (Source: Advertising Age, January 22, 2008)
  10. Linda A. Johnson Schering-Plough, Merck's Vytorin misses study goal, Associated Press, July 21, 2008.
  11. Myron Levin Vaccine maker's '91 memo suggests mercury-level risk, Los Angeles Times, February 08, 2005
  12. Ralph Blumenthal Texas is First to Require Cancer Shots for Schoolgirls, New York Times, February 3, 2007
  13. Testimony of P. Roy Vagelos, MD, Chairman and CEO, Merck & Co, before the Subcommittee on Health and the Environment Committee on Energy and Commerce: 940317, Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, March 1994
  14. Letter from N.M. Howard to W.I. Campbell, Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, May 1993
  15. Marck Board, organizational web page, accessed April 5, 2020.
  16. Merck, "Executive Committee", organizational website, accessed February 2013
  17. Executive DivisionMerck, accessed January 2011
  18. Raymond V Gilmartin, Forbes, accessed November 2007.
  19. Merck & Co., Inc. Executives, Hoovers, accessed January 2011
  20. Board of Directors, Merck, accessed January 2011
  21. 2008 PAC Summary Data, Open Secrets, accessed March 2010
  22. Merck & Co lobbying expenses, Open Secrets, accessed March 2010

External articles

External resources

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