Suddenly, No Heir Is Apparent At Merck

In the end, Richard J. Markham's abrupt departure from the No.2 job at Merck & Co. shouldn't have been a surprise. The 42-year-old marketer had leapfrogged over seasoned rivals seven months ago, when Chief Executive Officer P. Roy Vagelos tapped him as president and heir apparent. A hard-charging salesman, Markham was no scientist in a company dominated by scientists. Worse, he was a maverick who seemed miscast at team-oriented Merck. "He ruffles feathers," says a colleague. "He got into a position of power and strength because he is so assertive, and that turned some people off."

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