Merck's C-suite shakeup logs another loss as marketing exec Garay leaves for Moderna

Just two months after nabbing a promotion at Merck & Co., the company’s global human health marketing head is hitting the exit to join mRNA vanguard Moderna.

On May 31, Arpa Garay will enter the Moderna fold as chief commercial officer, the company said Wednesday. As a member of the biotech’s executive committee, Garay will report to Moderna helmsman Stéphane Bancel.

At Merck, Garay is responsible for the company’s long-term portfolio strategy and global marketing for approved and pipeline products. She nabbed a promotion to her current position back in February.

During her 16-year stint at the Kenilworth, New Jersey-based drug giant, Garay has overseen aspects of the company's business in oncology, vaccines, specialty and chronic care. Before donning the marketing chief mantle, Garay was president of global oncology and digital at Merck.

In that role, Garay orchestrated the commercialization of Merck’s pipeline contenders, plus business development for Merck’s cancer portfolio. She helped chart collaborations with AstraZeneca, Eisai and Seagen, too.

Garay is a globetrotter, having lived in Hong Kong, India, Norway, Singapore, and the U.S. She’s also graced a number of under-40 rankings for biopharma and business leaders at large.

For Merck, her departure comes as the pharma giant's leadership team plays musical chairs. Following CEO Ken Frazier’s departure last year, many executives have hit the exit or evolved their roles.

Last month, the company said it was bidding adieu to 12-year veteran Julie Gerberding, M.D., the company’s chief patient officer and executive vice president of population health and sustainability.

In February, meanwhile, Frank Clyburn, the former head of Merck’s human health division, jumped ship to International Flavors & Fragrances, where he now serves as CEO. 

Most recently, Merck tapped Joseph Romanelli as its leader of international human health. He had been with Merck for more than two decades before leaving to serve as CEO at a Chinese drugmaker in 2021.