Merck CEO To Head Penn State Sex Abuse Probe

Merck CEO To Head Penn State Sex Abuse Probe

November 14th, 2011 // 1:28 pm @

Fresh off a day in which he courted Wall Street with an increased dividend and pipeline promises, Merck ceo Ken Frazier is now shifting his sights toward college scandals and sexual abuse. The Penn State University Board of Trustees have tapped Frazier to head the investigation into child sex abuse that has turned the school upside down in recent days.

At issue, of course, are accusations that a former Penn State assistant football coach had abused several young boys, and that university officials, including famed football coach Joe Paterno, may have covered up the scandal. The university fired Paterno and Graham Spanier, who was the university president, two days ago.

Frazier, who is a Penn State alum and began serving a three-year term as a Penn State trustee in July 2009 (see this), will head the newly created special investigation, which is supposed to sort out “what failures occurred, who is responsible and what measures are necessary to ensure that this never happens again,” according to a university statement.

“There will be full accountability for those found responsible,” Steve Garban, chair of the board, says in the statement. “All resources will be made available for the committee to fulfill its charge and there will be no restrictions placed on its scope or activities.” He adds that Frazier is “experienced, seasoned and will provide the leadership necessary to prevail.”

Frazier, you may recall, has experience with scandals, although of a different sort. The Merck ceo was previously the No. 2 exec at the drugmaker and, before that, was general counsel during the years when the Vioxx scandal erupted. The painkiller was withdrawn in 2004 after studies showed a link to heart attacks and strokes.

However, the drugmaker had already been accused of failing to disclose such links, which fueled litigation and investigations. Last year, Merck reserved $950 million for an impending settlement of a federal probe into its research, marketing and selling practices for Vioxx. The drugmaker also reached a $4.85 billion settlement with Vioxx users in the US, a deal that helped Frazier’s star rise at Merck.

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