Merck and Viola Davis to Debut A Touch of Sugar During Tribeca Film Festival®


April 25, 2019 7:00 am ET

Acclaimed Actress Narrates Documentary Aimed at Confronting America’s Type 2 Diabetes Crisis

KENILWORTH, N.J. — Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, announced today that its documentary film, A Touch of Sugar, will debut during the Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday, April 25 as a part of Merck’s program America’s Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals. Narrated by award-winning actress and documentary spokesperson Viola Davis, the film dives into the type 2 diabetes healthcare epidemic that affects people in every community across the country, including Davis’s own family.

“I’m one of the 84 million American adults living with prediabetes and I’m sharing my story for the first time in an effort to inspire others to take action against the type 2 diabetes epidemic,” said Davis, spokesperson for A Touch of Sugar. “My sisters are both struggling with type 2 diabetes and my aunt also died from complications of the disease. Growing up, we just said they had ‘the sugar,’ which didn’t sound that concerning. But, when you look at the facts, there’s nothing harmless about diabetes – it’s a chronic disease that needs to be taken seriously if we’re going to get it under control.”

More than 30 million American adults have diabetes – that’s about 1 in 10 people – and 90 to 95 percent of them have type 2 diabetes. While many try to manage the disease by eating healthy, exercising and sticking to their treatment plan, about one-third of adults with type 2 diabetes are still not at their A1C (average blood glucose level over the past 2 to 3 months) goal. Living with the disease can be challenging, and there are many external factors that impact diabetes management. Through interviews with patients and their loved ones, doctors, patient advocates and thought leaders in the space, A Touch of Sugar highlights the often overlooked role that culture, community, social dynamics and stigma play in the epidemic.

“The American Diabetes Association is honored to participate in this important documentary, which demonstrates the resiliency of the human spirit and contests the national perception of life with type 2 diabetes,” said Tracey D. Brown, film subject and CEO of the American Diabetes Association. “As someone living with the disease, I stand proudly with our community and encourage everyone to share what it’s like to live with type 2 diabetes, so we can awaken the world to the everyday realities of this disease. Everybody’s voice counts and matters.”

A Touch of Sugar is told through the voices of patients united in their struggles with this chronic disease. As Shenekqual Robertson-Carter prepares for her wedding, Stewart Perry heads to Capitol Hill, Niurka Rodriguez provides for her family and Susie Katona searches for the guidance she needs, the film explores the many social factors that affect disease management and helps reinforce type 2 diabetes as an urgent public health issue that can’t be ignored, especially among underserved populations. Through these stories, the film touches on pressing issues affecting patients and families nationwide, such as barriers to treatment, stigma, lack of access to care and nutritious foods, and the need for culturally relevant management tools.

“A Touch of Sugar is an honest depiction of life with type 2 diabetes that puts a much-needed spotlight on the real people affected by it firsthand,” said Conrod Kelly, Executive Director, Diabetes Franchise at Merck. “Although the disease is a result of a combination of genetics, lifestyle and environment, there are steps we can take together to help reduce its impact on individuals and their families. With this documentary, Merck is dedicated to increasing awareness, and inspiring action to ultimately confront America’s type 2 diabetes epidemic head on – one community and one patient at a time.”

People can learn more about A Touch of Sugar and how to make a difference in their communities by visiting On the website, they can watch the trailer, start the conversation by downloading a discussion guide and find educational resources to help improve diabetes management.

About America’s Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals

Launched in 2014, America’s Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals is an educational program from Merck that urges people with type 2 diabetes to work with their doctor to set and reach their individual A1C goal. The program also helps people with type 2 diabetes learn if they are at risk of low blood glucose and how to help reduce that risk. To raise awareness of this disease and encourage Americans across the country to help confront the type 2 diabetes epidemic, America’s Diabetes Challenge has collaborated with several important voices to create the documentary film, A Touch of Sugar. To access helpful educational resources and learn more about the film, visit Patients and their loved ones can also join the America’s Diabetes Challenge community by visiting

About Merck

For more than a century, Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical company known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of research to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that threaten people and communities around the world – including cancer, cardio-metabolic diseases, emerging animal diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and infectious diseases including HIV and Ebola. For more information, visit and connect with us on TwitterFacebookInstagram, YouTube and LinkedIn

Forward-Looking Statement of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA

This news release of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA (the “company”) includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of the company’s management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results may differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

Risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to, general industry conditions and competition; general economic factors, including interest rate and currency exchange rate fluctuations; the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation in the United States and internationally; global trends toward health care cost containment; technological advances, new products and patents attained by competitors; challenges inherent in new product development, including obtaining regulatory approval; the company’s ability to accurately predict future market conditions; manufacturing difficulties or delays; financial instability of international economies and sovereign risk; dependence on the effectiveness of the company’s patents and other protections for innovative products; and the exposure to litigation, including patent litigation, and/or regulatory actions.

The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in the company’s 2018 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at the SEC’s Internet site (

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