Former CDC Director Now President of Merck's Vaccine Unit
In the summer of 2011, Merck president Julie Gerberding said in a news interview1 that she's "very bullish on vaccines," as she recounted the various ways she helps Merck sell its products. What she didn't divulge was her motivation for leaving her job as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—an agency charged with overseeing vaccines and drug companies—and join Merck in the first place, back in January 2010.
If you don't see the enormity of the influence her former high-level ties to the CDC can have, just consider the fact that Merck makes 14 of the 17 pediatric vaccines recommended by the CDC, and 9 of the 10 recommended for adults, and while vaccine safety advocates are trying to rein in the number of vaccines given to babies, safety concerns keep falling on deaf ears. The vaccine industry is booming, and it's become quite clear that profit potential is the driving factor behind it.
One of the reasons for this is because vaccine patents do not expire like drugs do, so each vaccine adopted for widespread use has the potential to make enormous, continuous profits for decades to come. Vaccine makers also enjoy a high degree of immunity against lawsuits—and in the case of pandemic vaccines, absolute immunity—so the financial liability when something goes wrong is very low, compared to drugs.