Merlo retires as CVS CEO and Lynch is successor

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WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health’s board of directors announced November 6 that Larry Merlo, who has served as chief executive officer of the company for a decade, is stepping down from his role next year and Karen Lynch, currently executive vice president of CVS Health and president of Aetna, will become the company’s president and CEO on February 1.

Lynch will also join the company’s board of directors as Merlo transitions from his roles as president and CEO on February 1.

Merlo began his career with the company as a community pharmacist more than 40 years ago. He will continue to serve on CVS Health’s board of directors until the company’s next annual meeting, in May, and he will remain with the company as strategic advisor to assist with the transition until his retirement on May 31.

“This leadership transition comes at the right time for CVS Health. This month marks the two-year anniversary as one company, with our foundation clearly established and significant positive momentum across the company,” said David Dorman, chair of the CVS Health board. “As Larry has been transparent with us about his overall plans, we were able to put a thorough, multiyear process in place to consider and evaluate internal and external candidates. That process led to the selection of Karen Lynch. Larry’s collaboration with Karen in the coming months will ensure an effective leadership transition.”

“Karen is a seasoned health care expert who knows our business. She brings a relentless focus on the customer, a strong track record of driving growth and innovation, and proven transformational leadership, all of which position her well for success. Our board of directors believes that Karen is the right leader to guide CVS Health into its next era of growth as the company continues its transformation,” Dorman said.

“I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to succeed Larry and lead CVS Health on the next phase of our important journey to meet America’s health care needs,” said Lynch. “Never before has our purpose been more critical than during these unprecedented times. Together with the CVS Health leadership team and all of our colleagues, I will work to build on the strong foundation Larry has put in place to continue to make health care more accessible and affordable, driving better health outcomes for our consumers and communities. I am highly confident about our company’s future and look forward to further accelerating the value we bring to all of our stakeholders.”

“On behalf of CVS Health and the board, I would like to thank Larry for his outstanding leadership and deep commitment to the company. During his tenure, CVS Health has transformed from a regional retail pharmacy into the nation’s leading diversified health services company, with over $250 billion in revenues. Larry led CVS Health’s industry-disrupting acquisition of Aetna in 2018, and strategically positioned the company’s community-based health clinics to provide integrated and holistic health care services to all Americans. In doing so, he created new ways to deliver health care through CVS Health’s unparalleled suite of assets, including a national health insurance plan provider, a pharmacy benefits manager, community-based retail pharmacies and a long-term-care pharmacy services business,” said Dorman. “No discussion of Larry’s tenure would be complete without recognizing his leadership of the company’s bold decision to eliminate the sale of tobacco products from all CVS Pharmacy stores, which was widely credited with being a catalyst for the reduction in smoking levels in the U.S.”

“I am incredibly proud to have had the opportunity to lead CVS Health over the past decade as we pursue our important purpose to help people on their path to better health,” said Merlo. “I am grateful to our entire CVS Health team for their dedication and hard work in helping us build a powerful, integrated health services company that will enable us to transform how health care is delivered across the country. Karen has been a key partner to me in our foundational work over the last two years, and her experience and vision will be critical in driving forward CVS Health’s journey of enhancing value for our customers as the nation’s leading health care company for years to come.”

Lynch currently is responsible for leading the company’s strategy to deliver consumer-focused, high-value health care to the millions of people Aetna serves.

She is also responsible for developing diversified enterprise health care solutions that leverage all of CVS Health’s assets. Prior to joining Aetna, in 2012, she was president of Magellan Health Services, a diversified health services company. She also held senior executive positions at Cigna.

At CVS Health, Lynch had a leadership role in the integration of Aetna, helping to launch the combined company’s initial suite of products and services.

Under her leadership, Medicare Advantage membership grew at a rate that was more than three times the industry average.

She has also been instrumental in the design of the HealthHUB strategy.



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