President Trump has come under fire on all sides for his reaction to the violence in Virginia, in which a woman was killed and dozens injured when white supremacists and anti-fascist protesters clashed in the city.
In a press conference, the president condemned “the egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” without directly condemning white supremacists. The White House has since said the President condemns white supremacist groups.
Mr Trump took to Twitter to directly attack Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier after he resigned from the American Manufacturing Council however, claiming that the leader of America’s third-largest pharmaceutical company will now have “more time to lower ripoff drug prices!”
Mr Frazier resigned from council on Monday, apparently citing the president’s reaction to the events in Charlottesville as a reason, stating that he felt “a responsibility to take a stand”.
Mr Frazier said in a statement: “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.
“As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”
Drug makers have come under closer scrutiny because of rising drug prices, although Merck has not been one of the companies targeted by politicians or watchdogs.
Other executives who agreed to serve on councils advising the president have already resigned, citing separate stances taken by the Trump administration.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk resigned from the manufacturing council in June, as well as two other advisory groups to the president, after the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.
Walt Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger also resigned from a White House advisory council for the same reason.
Additional reporting by Associated Press