Merck Announces Hope Against Hepatitis C Initiative to Support Public Awareness, Education and Research in the Fight Against Hepatitis C Virus


May 9, 2011 7:30 am ET

Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada,
today announced the launch of Hope Against Hepatitis C, a company
initiative to increase awareness, prevention and diagnosis of hepatitis
C virus (HCV) infection. Through the Hope Against Hepatitis C
program, Merck will support a wide range of public education and patient
support programs, as well as research efforts to help improve care for
people living with chronic HCV infection.

Chronic HCV is a serious infection of the liver and many of those
infected do not know that they have the virus – approximately 60 to 80
percent of people infected with chronic HCV do not have symptoms. As a
result, people who are undiagnosed may continue to unknowingly spread
the virus to others. Chronic HCV infection can damage the liver over
time and may lead to cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease and liver cancer.

“Winning the battle against viral hepatitis C requires improved public
awareness and education to ensure that those at risk speak to their
physicians about getting tested,” said Patrick Bergstedt, senior vice
president and general manager, Infectious Diseases, Global Human Health,
Merck. “Merck is committed to supporting these efforts, which are
critical to managing this serious public health issue.”

The Hope Against Hepatitis C initiative will encompass a variety
of public-private partnerships, educational programs and collaborative
research efforts aimed at supporting the hepatitis C community.

Key initiatives of the program include Merck’s participation in the CDC
Foundation’s Viral Hepatitis Action Coalition. As a member of the
Coalition, Merck is providing support for key research and programs led
by the Division of Viral Hepatitis at the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) through grants to the CDC Foundation. Specifically,
Merck is providing support for CDC’s Birth-cohort Evaluation to Advance
Screening and Testing for Hepatitis C (BEST-C) project. This two-year
study will evaluate a birth-cohort-based approach of routine one-time
screening for HCV infection of all persons born 1945-1965 to increase
the proportion of people who are aware of their HCV status. Merck also
is providing full funding through the CDC Foundation for a fellowship in
CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis to evaluate HCV testing practices and
partial support for CDC’s National Hepatitis Education Campaign targeted
to health care providers, the general community, as well as populations
at risk.

Merck is sponsoring the expansion of the American Liver Foundation’s
(ALF) Treatment Choices Initiative for individuals who have or are at
high risk of chronic HCV infection. This initiative encompasses
community-based education programs to inform participants about the
liver, liver disease, specifically chronic HCV infection, and disease
management strategies. The programs provide perspectives from healthcare
providers, as well as individuals who are infected with chronic HCV.
Program speakers and participants discuss available information and
local resources.

Merck also has launched a new consumer education website,,
to help inform patients about the risks associated with chronic HCV
infection and to address common questions about the disease. The site is
designed to provide content and resources in a user-friendly format that
empowers patients to take action and start a conversation with their
healthcare professionals. Among the useful features of the site is a
risk factor questionnaire that patients can use to assess their risk for
infection with chronic HCV. The site offers information on how chronic
HCV can lead to serious health problems and helpful tips for patients to
use in talking to a physician about chronic HCV infection. A list of
questions is available for print-out so that users can take it to their
doctor’s office for consultation.

“Merck’s commitment in HCV spans three decades and extends beyond drug
discovery and development,” Bergstedt said. “We also are committed to
partnering with the scientific community to advance the field, and to
improving access to chronic hepatitis C care.”

About Merck

Today’s Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be
well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada.
Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and
consumer care 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
healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For
more information, visit

Forward-Looking Statement

This news release includes “forward-looking statements” within the
meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the United States Private
Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements may include,
but are not limited to, statements about the benefits of the merger
between Merck and Schering-Plough, including future financial and
operating results, the combined company’s plans, objectives,
expectations and intentions and other statements that are not historical
facts. Such statements are based upon the current beliefs and
expectations of Merck’s management and are subject to significant risks
and uncertainties. Actual results may differ from those set forth in the
forward-looking statements.

The following factors, among others, could cause actual results to
differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements: the
possibility that the expected synergies from the merger of Merck and
Schering-Plough will not be realized, or will not be realized within the
expected time period; the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation
and health care legislation; the risk that the businesses will not be
integrated successfully; disruption from the merger making it more
difficult to maintain business and operational relationships; Merck’s
ability to accurately predict future market conditions; dependence on
the effectiveness of Merck’s patents and other protections for
innovative products; the risk of new and changing regulation and health
policies in the United States and internationally and the exposure to
litigation and/or regulatory actions.

Merck 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 Merck’s 2010 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 (

Pamela Eisele, 908-423-5042
Robert Consalvo, 908-423-6595
Alex Kelly, 908-423-5185
Carol Ferguson, 908-423-4465

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