Speaking in an interview Wednesday, incoming Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier stressed the importance of technology and innovation in moving the pharmaceutical industry ahead.
"In the long run, innovation is what matters … turning science into medically important products," said Frazier, who will take the reigns from current chief executive Richard Clark on January 1.
However, Frazier, a lawyer by trade, does not have a background in science and technology - an attribute shared by other pharmaceutical industry CEOs at Pfizer and Sanofi-Aventis.
Nonetheless, the company has recently been focusing on costly research that many are hoping will lead to breakthroughs in cancer and heart disease research.
"They are making it known that the core of their business model is to continue to be the high-risk, high-reward science,’" said Christopher Bowe, an Informa PLC analyst. "That's clearly not the case with other companies."
Last year, the pharmaceutical giant acquired Schering-Plough for $49 billion - a move that has forced the New Jersey-based company to lay off some 15,000 employees. Meanwhile, rival Pfizer has also been busy buying up smaller competitors, such as last year's $68 billion acquisition of Wyeth and its current plans to acquire King Pharmaceuticals.
As market share in the pharmaceutical industry tightens, smaller firms are being advised to adopt comprehensive intellectual property management systems to protect their innovations and IP.