Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Former "Camelot-Era" Merck Chairman John J. Horan: 1921-2011

There are probably more than ten million people, worldwide, who have been spared the exquisitely-torturous pain, and ultimately, complete blindness brought on by a common water born parasite, due in large part to Mr. Horan's visionary support of Merck's ivermectin program. Now, that's a legacy.

He has passed peacefully at age 90 in Sea Girt, New Jersey; and was a giant in the "Camelot" days of pharmaceuticals discovery and development. He will be missed.

These (below) are the sorts of accomplishments we should all hope to be eulogized for, after nine wonderful, productive decades on the planet (from Merck's press release, of yesterday):

. . . .John J. Horan. . . died on Saturday, January 22, of natural causes. He was 90 years old. Mr. Horan served as chairman of the Board of Directors and chief executive officer of Merck & Co., Inc., from 1976 to 1985. By the end of his tenure, Merck had grown into the largest pharmaceutical company in the world and would soon become the most admired company in America on Fortune magazine's well-known list.

Horan was instrumental in supporting Merck research that led to the development of ivermectin, a medicine to help prevent and treat the devastating tropical disease known as river blindness, and a long running global partnership with a range of governments, intergovernmental agencies and non-profit organizations that serves as the pioneering model for governmental and business cooperation in humanitarian efforts in developing nations.

Upon his retirement as Merck's CEO, Horan continued to serve as a member of the Board of Directors and as its vice chairman until 1993. He earlier served as the company's president and chief operating officer. . . .

In sum, he led Merck in a time when -- and with a vision that -- if the science was put first, the money would generally care of itself. And it did.

Those times have passed -- for the world is too complicated now, to return to such a simple drug discovery model -- but it is well to remember these philosophical roots.

No comments: