When the coronavirus hit, CVS Health quickly built drive-thru through COVID-19 testing capabilities, significantly increased prescription delivery and expanded access to telemedicine. As president & CEO of CVS Health, one of the largest health-care companies in the U.S., Larry Merlo says he puts consumers at the center of every decision his company makes. How does that focus on the consumer and lessons learned throughout the pandemic guide his thinking for the future? Washington Post columnist David Ignatius talks with Merlo about his company’s strategy and what’s next for the health-care industry.


Larry Merlo, President and CEO of CVS Health

Larry Merlo is President and Chief Executive Officer of CVS Health, a Fortune 5 company and the nation’s premier health innovation company helping people on their path to better health. The company touches more than 100 million people each year through its unique combination of assets, including approximately 9,900 retail locations, approximately 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with approximately 102 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year and expanding specialty pharmacy services. CVS Health also serves an estimated 34 million people through traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including expanding Medicare Advantage offerings and a leading stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

Under Merlo’s leadership, CVS Health is executing a strategy to become the most consumer-centric health company by meeting people where they are — whether that’s in the community, in the home, or in the palm of their hand. As part of the company’s deep commitment to public health, in 2014 it announced the landmark decision to be the first major retail pharmacy to eliminate tobacco sales in all of its stores. To reflect its broader health care commitment, the company subsequently changed its corporate name to CVS Health.

Merlo, a pharmacist by education, joined CVS Pharmacy in 1990 through the company’s acquisition of Peoples Drug. Prior to assuming the role of President and CEO in 2011, Merlo held positions of increasing responsibility, most recently President of CVS Pharmacy. Under his leadership, the company completed some of the most successful acquisitions in the history of retail pharmacy and delivered significant organic growth in major markets across the country.

Merlo currently serves on the Board of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and the University of Pittsburgh’s Board of Trustees. He also serves on the Business Roundtable Executive Committee.

He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy.