In Which Salmon And I Discuss The New CEO, Now Taking Up Residence At Whitehouse Station

Salmon and I were discussing today’s news in the comment box. I felt we ought to highlight it here, and ask — what do you believe? Will he be a good CEO, a visionary, and yet self-deprecating leader — or more of the same? Let us know, in the comment box. I may also set up a poll, at the left top margin of the main site.

Here is Salmon’s take:

. . . .I disagree with parts of your assessment. Laudatory behavior in one area does not mean that he will be a good CEO or that he engages in approrpriate behavior in other venues. Specifically in protecting life.


November 30, 2010 10:53 AM. . . .

True enough, Salmon — no one can ever really know how a person will behave, when that person thinks (rightly or wrongly) “no one is looking“. On that we agree.

I must admit though, the more I read — the better I feel about him (despite the Vioxx® matter).

Per Bloomberg BusinessWeek reporting, just now:

. . . .Frazier’s rise at Merck belies his unassuming roots. His mother died when he was 12, leaving his father, a janitor at United Postal Service, to raise three children alone in a North Philadelphia neighborhood. In college, he sold tadpoles and newts to a local aquarium store to make pocket money.

He is married with two children and volunteers for organizations that serve the underprivileged. . . .

The story goes on to recount the work he’d done to save Bo Cochran’s life.

Having known a public-company GC who used the company’s private jet (ahem) to fly tiny little “accessorized” dogs to various doctor’s appointments (from a vacation home), over a weekend — I would encourage you to take a new look at this Ex-GC, a man who’d willingly spend his weekends, and his own money, in an Alabama prison (on death row, no less — not a particularly friendly place to be, as a person of color, around those guards), to save a man he’d never met before. That man he’d never met before is Bo Cochran — who’d had the simple (then-all too-common) misfortune of being a black man, in Alabama in 1976, on a night when a white man was killed, allegedly by someone who was also black.

The contrast between an overly-entitled, snivelling elitist corporate lawyer-to-the-priviledged, and this one — could not be much more startling — in my opinion.

All that said — at base, I agree, Salmon — we just don’t know enough, yet.

[What we do know is that James “Bo” Cochran could not have dragged a body (his supposed victim), from a convenience store counter, to a trailer park, by hand, and placed the victim under a trailer, all while the police were (according to their sworn statements) allegedly continously chasing him, from the crime scene, on foot, as well. It simply could not have happened that way — or anything like that way:

It seems likely that Bo may have robbed the store, long before, or after someone else shot the man, and dragged him away, leaving him under a trailer — but Mr. Cochran did not kill that proprietor. The evidence offered at trial could not have supported that verdict. But the jury was 11 to 1 white; and at the time in Alabama, juries were required to find the accused either guilty of murder, or set him free — there could be no lesser included offense finding (i.e., robbery, but not murder). The jury found him guilty and immediately also sentenced him to death. That was 1976.]

UPDATED: 12.01.10 | 8 AM EST
Salmon has answered — and I agree wholeheartedly with his:

. . . .I certainly didn’t expect such an extensive response. However I have to say it’s fair. I agree we don’t know enough yet.

His actions in the Bo Cochran case are certainly not what I would expect to see from the typical pharma exec. However I’ve known others whose charitable behavior was exemplary yet were ruthless and unethical in business.

His job in the Vioxx case was to minimize financial risk to the company post facto regardless of the consequences to those harmed and presumably he did that quite well.

Being a Sr. exec I assume he’s learned about running a corporation. However being a lawyer does not necessarily make him qualified to oversee drug development.

As for ethical standards we truly don’t know yet. In my experience it has sometimes taken me years to understand the true ethics of some people I’ve worked with. So I personally don’t expect to be able to know much about Frazier. Even so I have to assume that he was involved with the purchase of SP and knows the result of any due diligence. Yet from what I know certain corrupt practices should have been obvious.

I believe his true nature will become apparent when Merck has its next big ethical dilema.

All said, I don’t know of any reason why he shouldn’t be CEO and can’t suggest anyone else. I also think his behavior in the Bo Cochran case was exemplary. As to what he will bring to being the CEO of Merck only time will tell.
In any event I wish him well.


December 1, 2010 8:09 AM. . . .

Well-put, my friend.


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