Larry Merlo today took the helm at CVS Caremark Corp. as chief executive officer, succeeding Tom Ryan.

Larry Merlo, CVS Caremark, chief executive officer, CEO, CVS Caremark CEO, Tom Ryan, David Dorman, pharmacy health care, CVS/pharmacy, leadership succession, leadership transition, Per Lofberg, Caremark Pharmacy Services, pharmacy benefit management, PBM, pharmacy services

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Merlo takes the CEO reins at CVS Caremark

March 1st, 2011
Larry Merlo

WOONSOCKET, R.I. – Larry Merlo today took the helm at CVS Caremark Corp. as chief executive officer, succeeding Tom Ryan.

CVS Caremark announced Merlo's official move from president and chief operating officer to the role of president and CEO on Tuesday. In late January, the company said that Merlo would take the chief executive reins on March 1, as part of its leadership succession plan.

As previously announced, Ryan will remain nonexecutive chairman until his retirement at the company's annual shareholders meeting in May. At the meeting, board director David Dorman is slated to be elected as nonexecutive chairman.

Merlo assumes the CEO post a bit earlier than originally announced. He was slated to take over the position with Ryan's retirement in May.

"After more than 20 years, I know this organization, its values and our people's passion for serving our customers," Merlo said in a statement. "We are building on a strong foundation. CVS Caremark is the leader in providing integrated pharmacy health care. No one else has our combination of the largest chain of retail stores, a leading PBM, the fastest-growing retail health clinics and a strong track record of health care innovation.

"We are now focused on delivering the promise of our integrated pharmacy health care model," Merlo added. "We will more fully leverage our unique combination of assets by maximizing the potential of our pharmacy benefit management business, sustaining our retail leadership, continuing innovation to create new health care solutions and more consistently delivering financial and operational excellence. The entire CVS Caremark team is committed to delivering these results."

The 55-year-old Merlo was designated to become the next CVS Caremark CEO since last May, when he was promoted from CVS/pharmacy president to CVS Caremark president and COO. The company also announced then that Ryan, 58, would retire as CEO at the next annual shareholders meeting and that to ease the leadership transition it had set up an office of the chairman including Ryan, Merlo and Per Lofberg, president of Caremark Pharmacy Services.

A pharmacist by training with over 30 years in pharmacy health, Merlo joined CVS/pharmacy in 1990 with the acquisition of Peoples Drug. CVS Caremark noted that he has played a key role in the evolution of the company from CVS/pharmacy, a large regional retail drug chain, to CVS Caremark, the nation's largest pharmacy health care provider.

In addition, the company said Merlo "has the best industry track record of integrating major acquisitions." Under his leadership, the company stated, CVS completed "some of the most successful acquisitions in the history of retail pharmacy, including Longs Drug stores, Osco/Sav-on, Eckerd and Revco, and delivered significant organic growth in major markets across the country."

Dorman commented, "Larry Merlo sets high expectations for his leaders, builds collaborative winning teams and establishes clear accountability in delivering results. The board has recognized this from his many accomplishments. Larry is the right leader to take CVS Caremark to an even higher level of performance."