Former CDC Head To Lead Merck’s Vaccine Division

The pharmaceutical company Merck on Monday named former CDC head Julie Gerberding as president of the company’s vaccine division, Reuters reports. “Gerberding, who led the CDC from 2002 to 2009 and stepped down when President Barack Obama took office, will head up the company’s $5 billion global vaccine business that includes shots to prevent chickenpox, cervical cancer and pneumonia,” the news service reports.

“She had led CDC from one crisis to another, including the investigation into the anthrax attacks that killed five people in 2001, the H5N1 avian influenza, the global outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and various outbreaks of food poisoning” (Fox/Berkrot, 12/21).

Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal adds: “As president of the vaccines business, [Gerberding] will be responsible for the sale of the company’s current portfolio of vaccines, the introduction of vaccines from the company’s pipeline and the acceleration of Merck’s efforts to broaden vaccinations in developing countries” (Solsman, 12/21).

“As a preeminent authority in public health, infectious diseases and vaccines, Dr. Gerberding is the ideal choice to lead Merck’s engagement with organizations around the world that share our commitment to the use of vaccines to prevent disease and save lives,” Richard Clark, CEO of Merck said in a statement, Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Pettypiece, 12/22).

“I’ve had the privilege in my previous work in academia and in the federal government to be a passionate advocate for public health priorities such as vaccines, which are an imperative component of global health development,” Gerberding said in a Merck press release. “I am very excited to be joining Merck where I can help to expand access to vaccines around the world.”  Gerberding will assume the new position with Merck on January 25, 2010, according to the press release (12/21).