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Merck CEO quits Trump’s manufacturing council

Kenneth Frazier Merck

The CEO of global pharma giant Merck, Kenneth Frazier, is resigning from President Donald Trump’s manufacturing council.

The resignation came after a weekend of violence at a white-nationalist and neo-Nazi protest in Charlottesville, Virginia. The president did not explicitly condemn white supremacists. 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. As CEO of Merck, and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

Trump almost immediately fired back at Frazier, turning the conversation toward drug pricing, according to Business Insider. Trump wrote on Twitter: “Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!” Trump has previously criticized pharmaceutical companies for charging “astronomical” drug prices and pledged to find ways to bring prices down.

Following Frazier’s announcement, Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO – a union federation with 12 million members – said it was also assessing its involvement with Trump’s business panel. Trumka sits on the panel. “The AFL-CIO has unequivocally denounced the actions of bigoted domestic terrorists in Charlottesville and called on the president to do the same. We are aware of the decisions by other members of the president’s manufacturing council, which has yet to hold any real meeting, and are assessing our role. While the AFL-CIO will remain a powerful voice for the freedoms of working people, there are real questions into the effectiveness of this council to deliver real policy that lifts working families,” said Trumka.

Frazier is the fourth business leader to quit Trump’s business panel. The Disney chairman Bob Iger and Tesla chief executive Elon Musk both resigned in June after the president announced he would withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement.

Learn more about Trump’s effect on the US life science industry here:

Trump’s Impact on U.S. Life Sciences