40 Under 40 2017: Claire Mulhearn

Executive director, global communications, Merck, 39

With Claire Mulhearn leading communications, Merck became a new oncology leader in the industry. Recruited in-house in 2012 after delivering stellar work on Merck’s business at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Mulhearn rocketed from director to executive director in just three years due to her strategic contributions to the infectious disease franchise and her efforts to put the company’s oncology franchise on the map.

Mulhearn has been instrumental in helping build Merck into a formidable voice in oncology. Her knowledge and powers of persuasion drive media coverage, as well as help shape the product and oncology franchise narratives in a highly charged and competitive environment.

Known at the company as someone who can "thread the needle," Mulhearn can bring a complex challenge to a broad team of communications, marketing, medical, legal, regulatory, and policy colleagues, and move them in the right direction.

That expertise helped her navigate a highly regulated environment and complex science while creating a compelling narrative and shaping positive perception for Keytruda. Mulhearn led efforts to make sure patients around the globe have access to the drug. As a result, she was chosen to accept the prestigious Chairman’s Award from CEO Ken Frazier on behalf of the support functions who made Keytruda a success. The award is given to the team that had the greatest impact on the company.

She is the go-to pro for the newest or most challenging assignments in her group. Mulhearn’s track record of success in HIV and infectious diseases landed her the lead role on the global oncology communications team, where she ensures that cancer patients’ voices are woven strategically into the company’s oncology communications.

  • At Abraxis Bioscience, Mulhearn was instrumental in the successful launch communications for its first big oncology product, Abraxane. She also developed the comms framework for a co-promotion with AstraZenaca.
  • A long-time advocate for breast cancer patients, Mulhearn was diagnosed in 2015 with triple negative breast cancer, one of the most aggressive and treatment-challenging types of breast cancer. In October 2015, she joined a team supporting the Avon Walk to End Breast Cancer, and in the past two years has personally raised more than $10,000 for the cause.
  • For nearly three years, she managed partner and investor outreach for the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the world’s largest biotechnology trade association.

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