What is that thing, which is an absolute essential for survival? Something that saves billions of lives every day? George Merck was the president of the company which made this ‘Something’.
“Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon themselves.”– William Shakespeare
Born in the Merck family, greatness was thrust upon George, but from the way he handled it, we can say that he was born for greatness. In case you haven’t figured out yet, that ‘something’ is Medicine. Moving forward with our series of ‘Remarkable CEOs’, the seventh article is for George Merck.
Merck was born on March 29, 1894, in New York City to the wealthy Merck family. Raised in New Jersey, Little George had the privilege to access Thomas A. Edison’s Workshop. In 1915, he graduated from Harvard as a B.S in Chemistry.
Due to the breakout of the First World War, he was unable to complete his education for an advanced degree in Germany. He then returned home and decided to join his father’s company.
In 1925, George Merck was made the President of the company. He succeeded his father, who became the Chairman of the Board. Merck was involved with the manufacturing of synthetic vitamins, antibiotics, and hormones during the interwar era. During the Second World War, he led the Research Service which initiated the US Biological Weapons along with Frank Olson.
He set forth his company’s philosophy:
“We try to remember that medicine is for the patient. . . . It is not for the profits. The profits follow, and if we have remembered that, they have never failed to appear. The better we have remembered it, the larger they have been.”
- In 1952, he featured in the TIME Magazine where he illustrated the story of the American Drug Industry.
- For his contribution to the war effort, he was awarded the Medal for Merit.
- He also received the Industry Medal of the American Chemical Society, as well as honorary doctorates from several universities.
- He also led the Manufacturing Chemists’ Association from 1949 to 1952 as their president and was also on the board of the National Science Foundation.
The Vision of George Merck
“We cannot step aside and say that we have achieved our goal by inventing a new drug or a new way by which to treat presently incurable diseases, a new way to help those who suffer from malnutrition, or the creation of ideal balanced diets on a worldwide scale. We cannot rest till the way has been found, with our help, to bring our finest achievement to everyone.”– George Merck