Merck Launches Maternal Health Awareness Campaign, Once Upon a Birth, with Actress Melissa Joan Hart


November 29, 2012 9:02 am ET


Hart Shares Story of Her Son’s Birth to Honor Those Women Who

Never Get the Chance to Share Their Stories

November 29, 2012 – Every few seconds, in every corner of the globe, a mother welcomes a baby into the world.  A recent U.S. online survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, among 2,282 adults aged 18 and up showed that nearly every parent (93 percent) characterizes this moment as “life-changing.” However, what is not often discussed is that childbirth can be a very dangerous time. According to the World Health Organization, every two minutes somewhere in the world a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth. This obviously has a devastating impact on a family and their community.  

To address this global crisis – known as maternal mortality – Merck, a global healthcare company, developed Merck for Mothers,a 10-year, $500 million initiative to help create a world where no woman has to die giving life. Merck for Mothers is proud to collaborate with actress and mother of three Melissa Joan Hart to launch “Once Upon a Birth,” a campaign designed to raise awareness of maternal mortality in the United States.

“I was lucky to have had three healthy pregnancies and deliveries with great medical care.  I now know that this is not always the case, even for women here in the U.S. I was surprised and saddened to learn that, despite medical advancements, each day 800 women around the world die during pregnancy or childbirth,” said Melissa Joan Hart.  “As a mother, I’m passionate about this issue, and I was excited to share the story of the day my new son, Tucker, was born on Merck for Mothers Facebook page.”

Today, exposure to, and awareness of, maternal mortality is extremely low in the U.S.: 

  • In the past 12 months, only 11 percent of U.S.adults have read, seen or heard anything about the issue.
  • Nearly half (46 percent) o fU.S.adults do not know that maternal mortality impacts women here in the U.S.
  • And, most U.S. adults are unable to identify the leading causes of maternal mortality – postpartum hemorrhaging (59 percent were not aware this is a leading cause) and preeclampsia (66 percent were not aware this is a leading cause).

Yet, when people learned that women are dying during pregnancy and childbirth, the majority (81 percent) of U.S. adults were outraged to hear that these deaths are preventable, and the majority (70 percent) are upset that more emphasis is not placed on reducing maternal mortality.

“As part of Merck’s ongoing efforts to reduce the rates of maternal mortality across the world, we hope to galvanize the American public around this issue,” said Naveen Rao, M.D., Lead,Merck for Mothers. “All of us can play a role in getting women the maternal care they need.”

How To Get Involved

For every mother who’s given birth, there’s a story to be told. Merck invites you to visit the Merck for MothersFacebook page,, to learn more about this issue and join Melissa Joan Hart in sharing a birth memory of the day someone you love was born. Each story will trigger a donation from Merck to Join My Village, an innovative social change initiative that empowers women and girls in developing countries by increasing their access to health programs, and educational and economic opportunities through the humanitarian organization CARE.

Making a Difference Through Merck for Mothers

The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) seek to address the world’s greatest development priorities, with MDG 5 focused on reducing the maternal mortality ratio by 75 percent by 2015. With this goal lagging the furthest behind, Merck has joined the global effort and made a long-term commitment to the issue.

Drawing on Merck’s history of discovering innovative, life-saving medicines and vaccines,Merck for Mothersis applying the company’s scientific and business expertise – as well as our financial resources and experience in taking on tough global healthcare challenges – to reduce maternal mortality around the world.

Survey Methodology          

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Merck in September 2012 among 2,282 U.S.adults aged 18 and older, including 1,382 mothers. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Jennifer Allen Woodruff at (908) 423-6301.

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 and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Merck 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 all of 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 in the United States and internationally; Merck’s ability to accurately predict future market conditions; dependence on the effectiveness of Merck’s patents and other protections for innovative products; 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 2011 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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Media Contact:

Jennifer Allen Woodruff (908) 423-6301

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