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Merck names Heller to lead consumer health care unit

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WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — Merck & Co. Inc. has appointed former Johnson & Johnson executive Bridgette Heller as executive vice president and president of consumer health care.

The pharmaceutical company said this week that Heller, 48, will succeed Stanley Barshay, who had postponed his planned retirement to serve in a transition role after the merger of Merck and Schering-Plough.

Starting March 1, Heller will report directly to Richard Clark, Merck’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, and will serve on the company’s executive committee.

In the new post, Heller will leverage Merck’s consumer products brands to capitalize on new growth opportunities, including expanding the consumer business in markets outside the United States, according to the company. Merck’s consumer health division covers such brands as Afrin, Claritin, Coppertone, Dr. Scholl’s, MiraLax and Lotrimin.

"This is an exciting time to join the new Merck, with its focus on the consumer health care sector," Heller said in a statement. "I look forward to working with the talented team throughout this division to pursue growth through enhanced innovation, creative research and development and improved products in our consumer health care business."

Most recently, Heller served as president of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Global business unit since 2007. Before that, she was J&J’s global president for the Baby, Kids and Wound Care unit.

"We are extremely pleased to welcome Bridgette as the leader of our consumer health care division," Clark commented. "While the consumer health care business already has an established presence around the world, it also represents an attractive growth opportunity for Merck. Bridgette has an impressive track record of leading multibillion dollar businesses, as well as exceptional marketing acumen, both of which will serve her well in leading growth initiatives for Merck’s consumer business."

Before joining Johnson & Johnson, Heller was founder and managing partner at Heller Associates from 2004-05, where she provided consumer-centric growth strategies for companies outside the traditional consumer packaged goods arena, according to Merck. Previously, she was chairman and CEO of Chung’s Gourmet Foods and before that served as executive vice president and general manager at Kraft Foods Inc.’s coffee division.


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