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Ken Frazier, the former chief executive of Merck, has been the preeminent pharmaceutical CEO of his era. He is also likely the most prominent CEO to have spoken out against the former president, Donald Trump.

Frazier, who is retiring as chairman of Merck on Dec. 1, joined STAT to both reflect and to look toward the future at the annual STAT Summit in Boston earlier this month. He talked about the role of the CEO, both in business and politics, and spoke out on the problems of economic inequality and racial disparities in America.


“I think our democracy is in danger right now,” said Frazier, 67. “The democratic theory that we operate under assumes that we are more or less a collection of free, autonomous, relatively equal people, actors, who can go to the seat of government and are equal. If we look at the populist movements on the left and the right, they’re all saying the same thing, which is: You all are being screwed.”

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