M

erck CEO Kenneth Frazier said Monday that he would step down from one of President Trump’s advisory panels, citing “a responsibility to take a stand against violence and extremism” days after a series of racist demonstrations erupted into violence.

Less than an hour after the announcement, Trump shot back on Twitter:

And again at the end of the day:

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In a statement, Frazier said, “America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry, and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal.”

Trump has come under heavy criticism for failing to directly criticize the white nationalists at the center of the violent protests over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

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Frazier has been a figurehead for the drug industry in its dealings with Trump, joining a delegation of CEOs on at least three trips to the White House. At the most recent, in July, Frazier was among a cadre of pharma executes hailed by the president as “some of the great business minds, business geniuses.”

He was among 28 business leaders who joined Trump’s manufacturing council in January, a group that includes executives from General Electric, Intel, and Boeing. Two of Trump’s corporate advisors — Disney CEO Bob Iger and Tesla CEO Elon Musk — resigned in June after the president promised to remove the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky is a member of the panel. The company didn’t immediately respond when asked whether Gorsky will remain on the panel.

Frazier’s decision — and Trump’s ensuing rebuke — led to an outpouring of support for the CEO from his colleagues in the drug industry and the corporate world at large. In a tweet, Unilever CEO Paul Polman praised Frazier’s “strong leadership to stand up for the moral values that made this country what it is.” Jeff Kindler, the former CEO of Pfizer, offered similar praise, echoed by Alnylam Pharmaceuticals CEO John Maraganore, who leads biotech’s largest trade group.

Frazier’s move also ends months of pharma industry silence on the topic of Trump. Since the inauguration, as business leaders have spoken out against the president’s travel ban, climate policy, and plans to overhaul health care, most of the world’s largest drug makers have stood pat.

On the hot-button issue of drug pricing, Trump’s decision to single out Merck may fail to resonate. The company is not known for the exorbitant price hikes that made Valeant Pharmaceuticals and Martin Shkreli famous, and Frazier has decried such business strategies as “foolhardy.” In January, Merck pulled back the curtain on its own pricing practices, joining a small group of major drug makers willing to be transparent about an often opaque process.

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  • Anyone curious how these business leaders got on the Council in the first place? I think we can safely eliminate moral rectitude. Was it their brilliant business acumen, their sagacity, their shining example of Make America Great know how?

    Here’s one example. Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow had his company donate $1,000,000 to the Trump campaign. In return, Trump got his new EPA adninistrator Scott Pruitt to give a waiver for the use of a Dow pesticide, Chlorphydis, that is potentially dangerous to over 1800 species of wildlife. And as a bonus Liveris got to head the council.

    That’s how you get to be on Council. Now that Trump has disbanded the group Mary Barra won’t have to get questions about how GM sold cars to the Nazis.

  • How about business leaders do business and not politics??? What kind of posturing is that??? I read earlier comments… It’s very sad that a lot of people don’t really understand what is going on in the country… It started with statues, what is the next–burning books??? People call Trump a fascist without understanding that fascism was born on the left ( They were called national-socialists), and that idiotic group which calls itself anti-fa, they are the real fascists. How many times Trump had to denounce white supremacists, KKK, racism and bigotry? Go find Dr. Alvida King’s opinion about Trump’s first address. If you don’t know who Dr. Alvida King is, too bad for you: She is Martin Luther King’s niece and s big Trump supporter. I guess, Americans prefer carefully crafted and politically correct speeches to, yes, clumsy, but at least, honest opinions of a guy who is not afraid to voice one. In this case, left doesn’t want to hear that there was violence from the left. Even ACLU (Imagine!) said that. And to the guy from “outside”, you can look at your own leaders before laughing at others. Identity politics was going to backfire, and that is what is happening… It’s painful to see a one great country on decline, getting ruined by political correctness, most of all. I always though that PC is a more dangerous enemy than any terrorists… I am going stop now, I could go on and on, but I am not sure I could change anybody’s mind, so what’s the point…

    • Mara, you need to use a dictionary and “The Rise and Fall if the Third Reich”. The statues are of traitors who fought against the US because they wanted slavery. They are not heroes; they were our enemy.
      Fascist: “often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.” Dictionary. Typical examples are Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Fascist Franco’s Spain. These were right wing groups.
      You are so off the truth it is pitiful.

    • Correct Mara. Ignore those who like to rewrite history. Beyond my wildest dreams how anyone could accuse fascism of coming from the right. The left definition is socialism and fascism stems from that, certainly never from the right conservativism.

      Nice try though. Keep saying it often enough and you might begin to convince people

  • The Confederates were traitors. They committed treason. They fought against the United States. You will not find statutes of Rommel, undoubtedly an incredible General, in Germany because he was a Nazi! The Confederate flag is the flag of the enemy of the United States!!! My dad and all of my uncles fought in WWII to eliminate Nazis from the earth. Think of all the brave people who died to rid the world of Nazis… literally hundreds of thousands.

    • Molly, it looks like, unfortunately, there are two ( Ir even more) “truths” in this country nowadays… As I stated many times, I don’t expect, much less hope, to change anybody’s mind, but if you would like to talk to me to(maybe) understand where I am coming from, please, let me know. Speaking of dictionary, “fascio” or “fascia”, forgot the spelling, no time to check, means a bundle in Italian, which at meant that fascists would stick together like tightly tied bunch, and if anyone wasn’t with them, was an enemy… Anyway, just on the side note, eight years ago I voted for Barack Obama and eight years after I was sorry I did that… Again, if you look up my education, you can’t say that I am one of “those” uneducated whites who voted for Trump this time. Aren’t you curious, why? As I said, I am open. I don’t particularly like Linkedin, I don’t check it frequently–this was rather an accident I did today, and, against my best judgement, couldn’t stay away and just pass by without commenting… Something tells me that you are on FB, too, ? so you can send me a message, if you want. But if you don’t, have a nice life!

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