Larry Merlo retired as President and Chief Executive Officer in February 2021, having led the company since 2011. Mr. Merlo leaves the Board of Directors in May. He joined what was then CVS Pharmacy in 1990 following the acquisition of Peoples Drug and held positions of increasing responsibility over the next three decades. Mr. Merlo played a leading role in integrating multiple acquisitions, including two transformational deals reshaping CVS as a diversified health services company: our purchases of Caremark in 2007 and Aetna in 2018. He leaves a company that recorded $268.7 billion in total revenues in 2020, placing us at No. 5 on the Fortune 500.
Dear Fellow Stockholders:
It has been an honor and a privilege to lead CVS Health and to have played a part in transforming health care in our country. We have accomplished a great deal and have many initiatives underway designed to improve health outcomes, enhance access, and lower costs. They include new plan designs with integrated offerings such as our HealthHUB services, chronic care management programs, and access to virtual care.
When I took on the role of CEO 10 years ago, my overarching objective was to transform CVS Health into a new kind of diversified health services company. We needed to migrate away from a successful but traditional pharmacy organization to an innovative enterprise that could integrate that successful pharmacy franchise into the broader and larger healthcare spectrum. As part of our robust strategy to achieve that objective, we accomplished the following:
- Drove tremendous growth in CVS Caremark to become the nation’s leading pharmacy benefits manager;
- Invested in high-growth areas of specialty pharmacy, adding businesses such as Coram Infusion Services and Novologix®;
- Rebranded the enterprise as CVS Health and took bold actions that reinforced our purpose, including removing all tobacco products from our stores;
- Made health care easily accessible through our MinuteClinic and HealthHUB locations;
- Enhanced our retail footprint with the acquisition of Target pharmacies, while broadening our local appeal with the creation of the CVS y Más® format; and
- Strengthened our suite of assets with the industry-disrupting acquisition of Aetna.
Today, with an expansive physical presence in communities across the nation, CVS Health has the unmatched ability to meet customers where they are, and provide the care and services they need, be it in person or with the unique virtual delivery service capabilities that extend the company’s physical presence in real time. That’s what I’m most proud of: today, CVS Health is more than a corner drug store. It’s a diversified health services company serving the needs of more than 100 million Americans each year.
I’m delighted that the board appointed Karen Lynch to succeed me. Karen is a seasoned executive with over 30 years of health care experience – the last eight with Aetna. She brings a relentless focus on the customer, a deep understanding of how to drive value across our integrated health care assets, and extensive experience in both strategy and operations. Karen has been an invaluable partner to me in the planning and execution of our transformation over the last two-plus years, and her experience and vision will be critical in driving CVS Health forward. Your investment couldn’t be in better hands.
When I filled my first prescription as a newly licensed pharmacist in 1978, I could not have imagined the opportunities – and challenges – that awaited me. I have many to thank for my success. I want to acknowledge the CVS Health Board of Directors for its unwavering support throughout my tenure. As I leave the board in May, I will be watching from the sidelines and cheering on the company’s continued progress.
I also want to offer a heartfelt thank you to the nearly 300,000 CVS Health colleagues who have represented our company so enthusiastically. Without them, our success and growth would not have been possible. Their efforts have never been more impressive than over the past 12 months in the face of the pandemic. Our colleagues demonstrated their commitment to our purpose along with their capabilities in executing our strategy, leading the way for advancing care.
I wish you all good health in 2021 and for many years to come.
Larry J. Merlo
April 2, 2021