Larry Merlo
Chief Executive Officer of CVS Health
In office
March 1, 2011 – January 31, 2021
Preceded byThomas Ryan[1]
Succeeded byKaren S. Lynch
Personal details
Born1956 (age 67–68)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
EducationUniversity of Pittsburgh (BS)

Larry J. Merlo (born 1956) is the former president and CEO of CVS Health.[2]


Merlo grew up in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, just south of Pittsburgh, and graduated from Charleroi Area High School in 1973.[citation needed] He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy in 1978.[3][4]


Merlo began his career at Peoples Drug, and joined CVS Pharmacy in 1990, when Peoples was acquired by CVS. He served as senior vice president of stores (January 1994 to March 1998), Executive Vice President – Stores (March 1998 to January 2007), executive vice president of CVS Caremark (January 2007 to May 2010), president of CVS Pharmacy (January 2007 to January 2010), and chief operating officer (May 2010 to March 2011).[3][5] He was appointed chief executive officer in 2011.[6]

In 2014, after CVS refined its purpose of "helping people on their path to better health", Merlo announced that CVS would be the first major retail pharmacy to discontinue tobacco sales in all of its stores.[7][8] He also announced that CVS would attempt to expand its line of “MinuteClinics,” which are walk-in health clinics, from 800 locations to 1,500 by 2017.[9] In 2017, Merlo was also behind the decision that CVS would limit access to opioid painkillers.[8]

Merlo announced his retirement from CVS on November 6, 2020 with January 31, 2021 being his last day. He was succeeded by Karen S. Lynch, then Executive Vice President, CVS Health and President, Aetna at the time.[10]

Over the course of his tenure, CVS stock rose from $33.21 to $72.08, a 217% gain in share price. Comparatively, the S&P 500 grew 280%.[11][12]

Honors and board memberships

Merlo serves on the board of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) and the University of Pittsburgh’s board of trustees. He is also a member of the Business Roundtable.[3]

In 2014, he was named number 31 by Fortune Magazine as the Biz Person of the Year.[9]

Merlo and his daughter, Kristen, joined First Lady Michelle Obama as one of her special guests at the 2015 State of the Union Address on January 20.[7]

In 2016, Merlo was named University of Pittsburgh's 2016 Distinguished Alumni Fellow, which recognizes graduates with records of professional achievement and community service.[13]

Family life

Merlo lives in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, with his college sweetheart, Lee Ann. They were married in 1978. Together they have a daughter, Kristen Merlo. [7]


In 2015, it was revealed that Merlo had the highest CEO-to-average-employee pay ratio of any American company by Fortune Magazine.[14] CVS has also been criticized under Merlo's tenure as CEO for understaffing, not allowing pharmacy staff to take breaks, and underfunding critical aspects of daily operations.[15]

Additionally, claims of CVS using unethical and strong arm business practices during Merlo's tenure have been made.[citation needed] Several states have, in recent years, looked into the use of spread pricing and patient steering by CareMark, CVS's pharmacy benefits manager.[16] One of the most comprehensive investigations began as an in-depth journalistic investigation by Ohio's Columbus Dispatch. Their Side Effects series ran from January 2018 - April 2020 and prompted a state-sponsored study which found that PBMs (pharmacy benefit managers) were charging Ohio taxpayers 3-6 times the normal rate. The series also led to new state Medicaid rules and to proposed legislation aimed at tightening regulations on PBMs and controlling prescription drug prices.[17]


  1. ^ "CVS Caremark Says Merlo Will Become CEO in March".
  2. ^ Gray, Eliza (February 12, 2015). "CVS Wants to Be Your Doctor's Office". Time. Archived from the original on June 19, 2015. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "Larry J. Merlo". CVS Health. Archived from the original on January 22, 2019. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
  4. ^ Rago, Joseph (January 23, 2015). "The Revolution at the Corner Drugstore". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on April 29, 2015. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
  5. ^ "CVS Health Corp: Larry J. Merlo". Bloomberg. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  6. ^ Luna, Taryn (March 31, 2015). "CVS chief Larry Merlo earned $32 million in 2014". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on March 9, 2016. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c Hudson, David (January 19, 2015). "Meet Larry Merlo, a Guest of the First Lady, Michelle Obama at the State of the Union". Archived from the original on February 8, 2019. Retrieved April 29, 2015 – via National Archives.
  8. ^ a b Gharib, Susie (October 24, 2017). "CVS Health CEO Says Purpose is at the Center of Company's Reinvention". Fortune. Archived from the original on October 29, 2017. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  9. ^ a b "2014's Top People in Business". Fortune. Archived from the original on November 28, 2014. Retrieved April 29, 2015.
  10. ^ "CVS Health announces CEO transition effective February 2021".
  11. ^ "CVS Health Corporation (CVS)".
  12. ^ "SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY)".
  13. ^ "2016 Distinguished Alumni Fellow". University of Pittsburgh. October 5, 2016. Archived from the original on August 10, 2018. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  14. ^ Zillman, Claire (August 6, 2015). "This CEO Has The Highest Pay Compared To His Workers". Fortune. Archived from the original on February 12, 2018. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  15. ^ Elejalde-Ruiz, Alexia (May 10, 2016). "Union alleges overwork and understaffing at CVS pharmacies". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on July 3, 2018. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  16. ^ Candisky, Catherine (June 21, 2018). "State Report: Pharmacy Middlemen Reap Millions From Tax-Funded Medicaid". Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved April 20, 2021.
  17. ^ "Side Effects: Dispatch investigative series on the rising costs of prescription drugs". Retrieved April 20, 2021.

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