Chief executives of major American firms have rallied behind a pharmaceuticals boss who stepped down from an advisory White House position in protest over white supremacist violence.
Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier resigned from the American Manufacturing Council following the President Donald Trump's response to white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Trump was quick to fire back, accusing Frazier's company of selling drugs for "RIPOFF" prices in a tweet.
Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council,he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2017
In a statement, Frazier said that his decision was taken in both a personal capacity and as a representative of the company. "As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism," he said.
He alluded to Trump's response to this weekend's violence in Charlottesville, saying that “America’s leaders must honour our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry, and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal.”
Apple boss Tim Cook also waded into the fray, tweeting "We’ve seen the terror of white supremacy & racist violence before. It's a moral issue - an affront to America. We must all stand against it".
It is not the first time CEOs have taken a stance against the US president. Elon Musk and Robert Iger, chiefs of Tesla and Disney respectively, exited advisory panels in June after Trump pulled out of the Paris climate agreement.
Frazier has been CEO of the New York Stock Exchange listed pharmaceutical company since 2011.
He resigned from the President's council following Trump's failure to explicitly condemn far-right white nationalist groups after one woman was killed and 19 people were injured in violence at a protest in Charlottesville.
Shares in Merck just opened slightly up on yesterdays close, climbing 0.7 per cent higher.