Cristal Downing departs Johnson & Johnson to lead Merck comms, public affairs

Downing will report to CEO Rob Davis.

Cristal Downing comes to Merck from J&J.
Cristal Downing comes to Merck from J&J.

KENILWORTH, NJ: Merck has appointed Cristal Downing as its chief communications and public affairs officer, effective August 16.

In the newly created position, Downing will be a member of the pharmaceutical company’s executive team and will lead the development and implementation of its comms and public affairs strategy.

“This is a pivotal time for the biopharmaceutical industry, communities and the world,” she said. Downing added that her immediate priorities will include fostering the understanding of Merck’s scientific capabilities and contributions, its commitment to equity and its positive impact on global health.

Based at its corporate headquarters in Kenilworth, New Jersey, Downing will report directly to Merck president and CEO Rob Davis.

She comes from Johnson & Johnson, where she began in November 2014 as senior director of communications for its global supply chain. Downing took on executive positions of progressively increasing responsibility, managing communications involving mergers and acquisitions, investor relations and global finance.

In 2020, J&J appointed her VP of communications and public affairs for medical devices. She also co-led the development and launch of J&J’s Race to Health Equity platform, its racial and social justice strategy.

“We are grateful for the experience and leadership Cristal brought to the company and wish her the best of luck in her new role,” said Michael Sneed, EVP of global corporate affairs and chief communications officer of J&J. “A search for Cristal’s replacement is underway and we look forward to appointing a strong leader for our medical technology sector.”

Downing’s communications experience also includes working at American Express, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

Merck reported Q2 sales of $11.4 billion, 22% higher than last year. The multinational pharmaceutical company said it anticipates its full-year 2021 revenue to range from $46.4 billion to $47.4 billion. It earned GAAP net income of $1.2 billion, down 48.2% from the year prior. 

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