Merck & Co. has named its longtime general counsel — an architect of its strategy of fighting thousands of lawsuits over withdrawn painkiller Vioxx one by one — to head the drug maker’s global marketing and sales organizations.

The Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based company said Thursday it has appointed Kenneth C. Frazier president of the global human health unit. Bruce N. Kuhlik will replace Frazier as general counsel.