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Former Merck CEO Ken Frazier, famous for building the drugmaker into one of the world’s biggest cancer companies, shed his pharma garb in his first public appearance since starting a new role with the venture capital giant General Catalyst.

In July, General Catalyst appointed Frazier, who remains the executive chairman of Merck, as head of the firm’s “health assurance initiatives,” which seek to create more equitable and affordable health care through consumer-centric offerings. The splashy hire of Frazier, who is leading the firm’s newly created $600 million Health Assurance Fund, rocketed General Catalyst to prominence in the health care space. The firm has made numerous investments in companies including Livongo and Oscar — not to mention its well-known successful bets on tech firms like Airbnb, Stripe, Snap, and others.


In conversation with General Catalyst managing partner Hemant Taneja at the HLTH conference in Boston Sunday evening, Frazier was careful to draw a distinction between General Catalyst’s stated goals of using innovation to lower health care costs and reduce inequity with the tech world’s aggressive posture towards toppling the status quo.

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