CVS Health CEO Says Purpose is at the Center of Company’s Reinvention

Larry Merlo isn’t a pharmacist anymore, but as the CEO of CVS Health, he has transformed the giant pharmacy chain into the place to go to become healthy.

He says the reinvention “evolved” as the company tried to figure out the purpose of its business. When he was tapped to lead CVS, he assigned a small group of employees to answer the question, “Who are we?”

“They came up with a purpose. And that purpose was helping people on their path to better health,” he says. “And we used that purpose as our guidepost.”

That was the catalyst for many bold changes at CVS. Merlo was behind the decision in September for CVS to limit access to opioid painkillers. CVS also banned the sale of tobacco products in its stores. It is also the fastest-growing provider of walk-in clinics. And Merlo also renamed the company CVS Health, previously known as CVS Caremark. It is now the one of the biggest healthcare companies in the country and ranked number seven on the Fortune 500 with revenues of $177 billion.

What’s next for CVS? Merlo says, “You’ll continue to see what we refer to as the front of our store evolve. It will certainly have a focus on health.”

Watch the video above for more of our conversation with Merlo.


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