Merck's long-time CFO retires

Judy Lewent will leave in July after 17 years as CFO, 27 years with company.

By Aaron Smith, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- Judy Lewent, one of Merck's highest-ranking executives and most recognizable names, is leaving the company.

Lewent, chief financial officer and executive vice president, is retiring after 27 years with Merck (up $0.15 to $44.43, Charts), the company said Tuesday. Lewent, 58, has held her current position of CFO for 17 years and she plans to leave the company in July, Merck said.

Chief executive Richard Clark praised Lewent as a "world class CFO." The executive is leaving Merck on a positive note. The company amassed about 20,000 lawsuits and its stock price plunged following the withdrawal of the arthritis painkiller Vioxx in 2004. But Merck's price rebounded last year despite generic pressure, despite the patent expiration of the cholesterol blockbuster Zocor. Analysts have given much praise to the company's recently launched cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil and diabetes drug Januvia.

Merck is the fourth-largest U.S. drug company in terms of sales, behind Pfizer (down $0.15 to $26.15, Charts), Johnson & Johnson (down $0.09 to $65.42, Charts) and Abbott Laboratories (down $0.18 to $52.31, Charts). Merck is based in Whitehouse Station, N.J.

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