Our people

Here for Good: A steadfast commitment to health equity

How one colleague’s upbringing and career journey have motivated her to fight inequities around the world

June 10, 2024

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For Priya Agrawal, health equity has been a lifelong concern and a guiding principle in the work she’s done across industries.

As a young girl growing up in central London, Agrawal saw firsthand how inequities even within her own extended family could drastically impact health outcomes.

“I watched my father’s side of the family — who lived in London — live with diabetes, but I watched my mother’s side of the family — who lived in North India — die of diabetes,” Agrawal said. “It took me a while to figure out that it was my father’s family’s access to the National Health Service that made the difference.”

That early insight propelled Agrawal into a career as an obstetrician and gynecologist before moving into public health. Now vice president in charge of international health equity and partnerships, Agrawal first joined our company to help launch Merck for Mothers, a global initiative to help create a world where no woman has to die while giving life.  From there, she went on to a variety of roles — from lead of our vaccines and contraceptives business in the U.K. to managing director of South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa cluster to global head of HPV vaccines.

Agrawal’s work — and the passion that fuels it — continues, and she has no plans to stop.

“My purpose in life is to advance health equity. I want to be able to say that I did all I could to ensure more people could both survive and thrive because they had easier access to health.”

Innovation

What is One Pipeline?

How we’re advancing the best internal and external science to progress our pipeline for patients

May 30, 2024

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Drug development is a long and difficult endeavor. It can take more than 10 years to bring a new medicine to market. So how does our company think about developing new medicines and vaccines to help save and improve lives? The answer: through our One Pipeline strategy, where we complement our internal innovation and discovery efforts with the best external science through business development.

Dean Li

“Our One Pipeline strategy enables us to advance breakthrough science, whether it comes from our own labs or from our partners’ labs, and make medicines and vaccines for patients,” said Dr. Dean Li, president, Merck Research Laboratories (MRL). “Every day, we’re pushing scientific boundaries in research. Business development and external partnerships are integral to help drive our internal pipeline and to provide access to assets that are important for our discovery and clinical development groups.”

To achieve that balance, MRL works in lockstep with our business development and licensing (BD&L) team. “I want to emphasize how integrated BD&L is with MRL. This is hand in glove,” said Li.

Business development augments our pipeline

Our BD&L team is committed to securing scientific and commercial collaborations, licensing agreements and acquisitions from discovery to late-stage candidates and new technologies to help build our robust portfolio. We have a legacy of successful collaborations and are among the most active dealmakers in the biopharma industry.

Sunil A. Patel

“We match our strong scientific conviction with bold investments in novel, cutting-edge science to advance new options for patients,” said Sunil Patel, senior vice president, head of corporate development and BD&L. “We’re focused on bringing in the best external science to complement our internal efforts to deliver on our purpose and sustain our company for the next 130 years.”

~$50B

Invested towards business development since 2019.

~80

Significant transactions executed annually across technologies, modalities, therapeutic areas and phases of development.

The BD&L team members focused on our pipeline are embedded with scientists across our research network and, in addition to our New Jersey and Pennsylvania sites, they’re strategically located in key epicenters of innovation including Boston, Cambridge, London, South San Francisco, Shanghai and Tokyo. The team searches the globe for cutting-edge science and works alongside our research team to evaluate opportunities built on strong scientific principles, regardless of location or origin.

Creating a sustainable innovation engine

two scientists in a lab

As part of our One Pipeline strategy, we ensure a smooth transition when bringing in external science and leverage our clinical development and manufacturing expertise to advance each program with speed and rigor. This strategy is helping to build and maintain the flow of novel candidates through clinical development to patients, enabling long-term, sustainable growth for our company.

“Strategic business development focused on the best external science remains an important priority for our company. We’ve demonstrated that we can leverage our deep discovery prowess to identify important acquisition targets and then add significant value through our powerful clinical research engine, our regulatory expertise and our commercial scale, which together can serve to accelerate development and enable broad global access to important medical discoveries for patients in need,” said Rob Davis, chairman and chief executive officer.

lab

Pipeline

We’re focused on discovering new medicines and vaccines for today and the future. View our pipeline.

people in a business meeting

Business development and licensing

We work with many partners, from early-stage science to clinical-stage programs, to deliver life-changing therapies. Learn more.

Innovation

Vaccine inventors, creators and innovators

Dr. Maurice Hilleman was among the pioneering scientists who made strides in vaccine history and the fight against infectious disease

May 8, 2024

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Dr. Maurice Hilleman, who led our department of virus and cell biology from 1957 to 1984.

When were vaccines invented?

The story of modern day vaccines began in 1796 when Dr. Edward Jenner inoculated 9-year-old James Phipps with cowpox as a way to protect him from smallpox. The term ‘vaccine’ is later coined, taken from the Latin word for cow, vacca. Smallpox was the first disease people tried to prevent by intentionally inoculating themselves with infected matter.

Dr. Edward Jenner inoculating 8-year-old James Phipps with cowpox

Dr. Edward Jenner inoculating 9-year-old James Phipps with cowpox.

Eight decades after Jenner published his findings, Louis Pasteur developed the first live attenuated rabies vaccine. Attenuation is a process that weakens the bacteria or virus in a vaccine so it’s less likely to cause disease, while still triggering an immune response similar to the natural infection. During the mid- to late-20th century, advances in basic and clinical research made it possible for scientists to develop vaccines to help protect against both bacterial and viral diseases.

Dr. Maurice Hilleman’s contribution to vaccine development

The names Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin have become synonymous with their inventions and developments around the polio vaccine, and the giant strides they made in the fight against viral diseases. Although these are some of the most famous names in vaccine research, Merck has a legacy of vaccine pioneers, too. Dr. Maurice Hilleman, who led Merck’s department of virus and cell biology from 1957 to 1984, also belonged to that distinguished group. Credited with helping to develop more than 40 experimental and licensed human and animal vaccines, Hilleman’s passionate commitment continues to inspire scientists in medical research laboratories to this day.

Hilleman was born and raised on a farm in Montana. It was a hard life, but a farm background was a great foundation for his later work.

“When you’re brought up on a farm, you have a lot of general knowledge,” he said. After graduating from the University of Chicago with a doctorate in microbiology and chemistry, Hilleman chose to work at a pharmaceutical company instead of academia.

Despite his many accomplishments, including helping to develop more than 40 human and animal vaccines, Hilleman’s name is virtually unknown by the general public and press. Yet his impact on public health is undeniable.

“His commitment was to make something useful and convert it to clinical use. Maurice’s genius was in developing vaccines, reliably reproducing them, and he was in charge of all pharmaceutical facets from research to the marketplace.”

  • Dr. Paul Offit
    Director of the Vaccine Education Center, professor of pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and Hilleman’s biographer

In 1988, President Ronald Reagan awarded Hilleman the National Medal of Science, and in 1997, he was honored with the Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award. Dr. Anthony Fauci, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, called Hilleman “one of the true giants of science, medicine and public health in the 20th century.”

Innovation

Vaccines: Our history, our legacy

We've been working to discover and develop vaccines for more than a century

May 8, 2024

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“An epidemic of diphtheria is almost inevitable here. Stop. I am in urgent need of one million units of diphtheria antitoxin. Stop. Mail is only form of transportation. Stop.”

  • Dr. Curtis Welch

This was the desperate radio telegram in January 1925 from Dr. Curtis Welch in Nome, Alaska, to all the major Alaska towns, to territorial governor Scott Bone in Juneau, and to the U.S. Public Health Service in Washington, D.C. Diphtheria was spreading through the icebound community. Children had already died, and the local supply of diphtheria antitoxin had expired the previous summer.

Known as the “Great Race of Mercy,” it’s an iconic story of human compassion.

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Weather prevented delivery by air, so relay teams of sled dogs and their mushers raced against the clock to deliver 300,000 units of antitoxin, which was produced by Merck legacy company H.K. Mulford. They completed the 674-mile journey over what later became known as the Iditarod Trail in a record-breaking five days and seven hours despite whiteout conditions and temperatures of 50 degrees below zero.

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Over 130 years of vaccine leadership

In 1895, the H.K. Mulford Company began marketing the first commercially available diphtheria antitoxin in the U.S., the very medication that helped avert the diphtheria epidemic in Nome. Today, we have a significant presence in vaccine discovery, development and distribution in both human and animal health.

Dr. Maurice Hilleman

The vaccine pioneers

Merck’s Dr. Maurice Hilleman belongs to a distinguished group of vaccine pioneers — including Edward Jenner, Louis Pasteur, Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin. Hilleman is credited with helping to develop more than 40 vaccines and his impact on public health is undeniable.

Vaccines are not just for children

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider vaccines to be one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. In the U.S., vaccines are now available for a number of infectious diseases that once routinely affected people. While there are many vaccines available for children, it’s important to remember that adults also are susceptible to vaccine-preventable infectious diseases.

Each year in the U.S., thousands of adults suffer complications from these diseases. In low- and middle-income countries the toll is even higher.

Sustainability

Merck for Mothers: Expanding access to quality maternal care

More than a decade of strategic partnerships, private sector innovation and data-driven impact are helping create a world where no woman has to die while giving life

May 7, 2024

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According to the latest data from the World Health Organization, a maternal death occurs almost every two minutes. Nearly 95% of all maternal deaths occur in low- and lower-middle income countries, and most could have been prevented.

If we don’t do more, mothers, daughters and granddaughters will continue to lose their lives. And their loss will impact many.

The birth of Merck for Mothers

In response to this crisis, our company created Merck for Mothers, a $650 million global initiative to help create a world where no woman has to die while giving life.

“By helping address one of the oldest and most preventable global health tragedies, we believe Merck for Mothers will have an important impact on society,” said Ken Frazier, Merck’s then-chairman and CEO, as he introduced this program at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2011.

Merck for Mothers began its mission by joining the UN and collaborators around the globe to apply its scientific and business expertise to help save women’s lives, aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 3.1 to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 births by 2030. Achieving this goal would save the lives of approximately 1.4 million women between 2016 and 2030.

A sustainable model to make a difference for generations

Focused on advancing high-quality maternity care, harnessing innovations for maternal health and catalyzing solutions that respond to local needs, Merck for Mothers aims to make a difference for women and their communities now and in the future.

Women around the world die during pregnancy and childbirth for a variety of reasons, including a lack of medical supplies or inadequate health care services to address complications. Other times, it’s due to delays in seeking care or difficulties getting to a medical facility. Sometimes, women can’t afford to pay for health services. And often, women do not have information about or access to contraceptives to help them make their own decisions about whether or not to become pregnant.

Merck for Mothers takes a holistic approach to addressing the many factors that impact maternal health. It collaborates across sectors — working with governments, nongovernmental organizations, patient groups, professional associations, entrepreneurs, UN agencies, research institutions, businesses and even other pharmaceutical companies. The initiative also supports innovations across digital, finance, products and policy, and strives to leverage the private sector for public good. Engaging local stakeholders in designing, implementing and evaluating solutions plays an important role in creating sustainable improvements.

"We believe investing in maternal health care is a pathway to better health for all."

Jacquelyn Caglia

Director of learning, communications and U.S. programs, Merck for Mothers

“Working closely with our collaborators, we’re taking a holisitic approach to address inequities that impact maternal health, reflecting our company’s commitment to expanding access to health and advancing health equity around the world,” said Jacquelyn Caglia, director of learning, communications and U.S. programs, Merck for Mothers. “The impact we’ve made reflects our team’s dedication and the incredible efforts of community-based organizations globally. There’s still much to be done, which is why we’re focused on building on our learnings and scaling our impact.”

Making an impact and the ripple effect

Merck for Mothers has worked alongside more than 165 grantees and collaborators in more than 70 countries to find, test, scale and sustain solutions to reduce maternal mortality.

“Our programs directly reach women and health systems. Since 2011, we’ve reached more than 30 million women globally, helping them have healthier pregnancies and safer childbirths through programs promoting high-quality and respectful care — surpassing our goal of reaching 25 million women by 2025,” said Mark Allen, director of global programs & strategic partnerships, Merck for Mothers.

160M+

people reached through improved access to quality facilities

30M+

women with access to programs supporting safe, high quality, respectful care

397,000

providers with improved training

And, research shows that investing in maternal health can have a ripple effect. Better maternal health care is a pathway to a lifetime of benefits, both for a woman’s own health and prosperity as well as that of her children, family, community and nation.

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Infants are 15 times more likely to survive

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Children are 10 times more likely to finish school

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Millions of dollars are contributed by women to the economy

“When we invest in maternal health, we ensure that hundreds of thousands of women survive pregnancy and childbirth. When that happens, newborns are more likely to survive, children are more likely to stay in school, women are able to make invaluable contributions to their communities and the workforce, health systems are stronger and nations’ economies grow,” said Allen. “We call this the ‘Mom Effect.'”

And, that’s an important impact on society for generations to come.

Explore our progress over the past 10+ years


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Ken Frazier visiting a woman in the hospital

2011

Ken Frazier announces launch of Merck for Mothers 

Merck for Mothers and PATH collaborate to identify game-changing technologies

Spearheaded by top scientists from Merck for Mothers and the global nonprofit, PATH, this unique alliance evaluated promising technologies that address the two leading causes of maternal mortality — post-partum hemorrhage (PPH) and preeclampsia — as well as family planning. This collaboration surfaced the ideas of focusing on a heat-stable uterotonic (carbetocin) to address excessive bleeding during childbirth and optimizing magnesium sulfate administration for pregnant women with preeclampsia – two initiatives that we continue to fund today.

2012

Merck for Mothers joins new global partnership — Saving Mothers, Giving Life

This public-private partnership focuses on helping mothers during labor, delivery and the first 24 hours following birth, when an estimated two-thirds of maternal deaths and almost half of infant deaths occur. With a pledge of more than $200 million, the partnership began with programs in Uganda and Zambia, where maternal mortality rates are disproportionately high.

Pregnant mom in India

2013

Merck for Mothers launches $10 million initiative in India

This initiative to improve access to maternal health services will reach nearly 500,000 pregnant women in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jharkhand — all areas with high rates of maternal deaths.

Global health, development and business leaders announce new innovative financing partnership

This partnership leverages private sector funding to speed up delivery and access to life-saving health supplies, such as contraceptives, bed nets, and medicines to those in need. Through Pledge Guarantee for Health (PGH), this new financing mechanism helps increase the impact of each dollar of donor funding and ultimately improve health care access and outcomes for the millions who are helped by foreign aid.

Through the partnership, Merck and other private sector suppliers step up to provide up-front price discounts to aid recipients who utilize PGH to purchase their life-saving health supplies.

woman holding baby smiling

Merck for Mothers launches programs in the U.S.

The maternal mortality rate in the U.S. has nearly doubled since 1990. More than 50,000 women a year — one every 10 minutes — nearly die from severe complications they experience during pregnancy or childbirth. With an initial commitment of $6 million, these programs aim to enhance community care initiatives for high-risk women before, during and after childbirth; implement standard approaches to address obstetric emergencies; and strengthen data collection and reviews to better understand why maternal deaths occur and how to improve practices and patient care.

2014

Merck, Ferring Pharmaceuticals and WHO announce collaboration to prevent excessive bleeding in women after childbirth

Merck, Ferring Pharmaceuticals and WHO collaborate to advance a new, proprietary formulation of carbetocin to prevent excessive bleeding in women after childbirth. A primary benefit of carbetocin is its ability to remain stable at room temperature, even in hot and tropical climates, unlike oxytocin, the standard medicine administered for the prevention of PPH. Oxytocin is temperature-sensitive and requires sustained cold distribution and storage, which is difficult to achieve in many of these areas of high maternal mortality.

2015

Merck for Mothers explores digital technologies to mobilize maternal health 

Merck for Mothers commits resources to invent or enhance existing solutions to tackle some of the most critical obstacles standing in the way of delivering quality maternity care and contraceptive services in low- and middle-income countries. This commitment leads to a new wave of smart, innovative apps and digital platforms – like the Safe Delivery App, mDoc, Project iDeliver, AskNivi, MomCare, Together for Her Health, among others.

Merck and Merck for Mothers help advance a new set of UN global goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are formally adopted at the 70th UNGA. They represent the international community’s aspirations for improving the lives of the world’s poorest people by 2030.

Merck for Mothers has now reached 5 million women worldwide through its programs

teal bag that contains supplies for expectant mothers

2016

Employees across the globe join the fight to end maternal mortality

Employee volunteers participate in activities such as assembling post-natal kits for soon-to-be mothers in Uganda as a means of encouraging them to seek care to support healthy pregnancies and deliveries. The kits include essential supplies to aid the health and safety of a mother and newborn after birth. This activity, among others, become annual events where employees can help amplify our impact. 

Merck for Mothers’ collaborators complete their first maternity waiting home in Zambia

Maternity waiting homes — residences located near health facilities where pregnant women can stay before they go into labor — can make all the difference for pregnant women in rural Zambia, where the distance between home and a health facility can be a matter of life and death.

men working on a building

2017

Merck for Mothers teams up with stakeholders across India to launch Manyata

Merck for Mothers, Jhpiego India and the Federation of Obstetric and Gynecological Societies of India partnered to launch Manyata – an ambitious agenda to improve quality of maternity and newborn care services in private facilities by training doctors, nursing and administrative staff on essential clinical, facility and patient care protocols in India.

nurse helping with paperwork

Merck for Mothers commits $10 million and business expertise to the Global Financing Facility

In support of the UN Secretary-General’s Every Woman Every Child strategy to improve maternal and child health in low- and lower-middle-income countries, the goal is to prevent an estimated 3.8 million maternal deaths, 101 million child deaths and 21 million stillbirths by 2030. Merck is the first private sector investor and helped bring other private sector investors to the table.

Training health care workers in India

Merck for Mothers launches the world’s first maternal and newborn health development bond with public and private sector collaborators

The Utkrisht Development Impact Bond leverages private investor capital to incentivize private maternity providers in Rajasthan, India to improve the quality of care they deliver. Interventions will reach up to 600,000 pregnant women with improved care during delivery and could lead up to 10,000 lives being saved over a five-year period. 

pregnant woman being examined in the hospital

2018

Ferring Pharmaceuticals and Merck announce completion of carbetocin clinical trial, the largest clinical trial ever conducted in postpartum hemorrhage

The trial of heat-stable carbetocin showed it to be as safe and effective as oxytocin in preventing postpartum hemorrhage, the largest direct cause of maternal death. The trial included nearly 30,000 women from 10 countries.

“This has the potential to change the paradigm in how we save more mothers from dying during childbirth,” said Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, Merck’s then-chief patient officer.

two pregnant women

Merck announces new U.S. initiative — Safer Childbirth Cities

Through this initiative, Merck for Mothers will provide grants to help cities with poor maternal health outcomes develop and implement creative, multi-sector solutions to save women’s lives, improve maternal health and narrow racial disparities.

Merck for Mothers publishes first research compendium to advance collective understanding of maternal mortality

The research compendium, Evidence for Impact, collates actionable and real-time evidence about what works and what doesn’t to expand knowledge that will help encourage greater investment in women’s health. Merck for Mothers publishes a second compendium in 2020.
Mother with her baby and toddler in Romania

2019

Merck for Mothers has now reached 10 million women worldwide through its programs

African family with baby

The MOMs (Maternal Outcomes Matters) Initiative launched

A partnership between Merck for Mothers, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, Credit Suisse and USAID to stimulate, advance and scale innovations that contribute to a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth. It will invest $50M in local businesses that are working to improve maternal health in regions of the world where high rates of women are dying from pregnancy and childbirth. (Photo credit: LifeBank)

Pregnant belly and "Hear Her" CDC campaign logo

2020

Merck for Mothers provides funding to help support the CDC’s new maternal health communication campaign, Hear Her

Hear Her brings attention to maternal mortality and provides support to pregnant and postpartum women to speak up when something doesn’t feel right.

Merck commits $3M to address maternal health needs during COVID-19 pandemic

2021

Merck announces fifth round of global grants to tackle maternal mortality and promote health equity worldwide

Merck for Mothers supports the corporate grant program which enables Merck offices around the world to aid nongovernmental organizations that are improving maternal health. The program responds to local women’s needs, focusing on how resources can increase health equity in maternity care and support.

Merck announces additional $150M investment through 2025 to help end maternal mortality inequities, building on the $500M commitment made in 2011

This investment comes at a pivotal time for the global health community as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to stretch health systems, disrupting networks of care that support healthy pregnancies and safe childbirth.

mother and daughter in the hospital

2022

Merck for Mothers launches Strengthening Systems for Safer Childbirth Coalitions

This global initiative is supporting locally driven solutions with coalitions across India, Kenya, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The coalitions lead activities to advance health equity by improving access to high-quality maternal health care for underserved or underrepresented groups.

2023

Merck for Mothers debuts new report examining how transformational impact can be made in maternal health

The report highlights six social investments whose solutions have demonstrated transformational impact on maternal health in different contexts — each with funding from Merck for Mothers. Learn more about the report.

women smiling with children

Merck for Mothers supports organizations in Latin America

With a sixth round of global grants, Merck for Mothers supports organizations in Latin America, where wide disparities in maternal health outcomes persist. Through the grants, we aim to reach 135,000 women throughout Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Mexico.

2024

Merck for Mothers has reached more than 30 million women around the world

Through programs promoting safe, high-quality, respectful care, Merck for Mothers has now reached more than 30 million women, surpassing its goal of reaching 25 million women by 2025. Learn more

New grants help women in southeastern Europe

Latest round of global grants supports UNICEF through innovative projects designed to meet the unique local needs of women in Bulgaria and Serbia. Learn more

We believe solutions to end maternal mortality and improve the quality of maternity care should be rooted in women’s voices and experiences

 

Patients

Podcast: A candid conversation about diversity in clinical trials 

Hear a patient and a doctor share why they want more people involved in medical studies

May 2, 2024

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Clinical trials are an important part of helping to ensure new medicines are safe and effective. Yet a lack of awareness and feelings of hesitancy about joining one persist. 

Some people are uncertain about medical research due to past studies like the Tuskegee Experiment, when Black men were denied treatment for syphilis in the 1930s. Today, many are cautious when receiving advice from members of the medical community, including their doctors.  

Euvon Jones — a motivational artist, proud father and husband and a former clinical trial participant — hadn’t thought much about clinical trials before his diagnosis with prostate cancer, but he eventually decided to participate in a study to advance knowledge of the condition not only for himself but also for his community. 

Listen to the podcast

Read the transcript

In this podcast, Jones joined Adrelia Allen, executive director of clinical trial patient diversity at our company, and Dr. Renee Matthews, director of live programming and production at BlackDoctor.org, to share the factors that impacted his decision to participate in a clinical trial and how that experience changed his perspective on medical research.

Jones said it’s hard to trust the process if you don’t trust your health care provider or the person recommending a clinical trial. “Good information might be provided, but you have to trust that the information is good for you,” he said. 

Additionally, Matthews discussed how misinformation perpetuates stigma around clinical trials and the work that her organization is doing to help instill confidence in people who are considering participating in clinical trials.  

Learn more about how we’re prioritizing diversity in clinical trials and why it’s so important.

Health awareness

Prostate cancer: stigma, early screening and support

A prostate cancer survivor and a caregiver and advocate want to inspire more people to talk about the disease

April 26, 2024

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Even after losing his father and grandfather to prostate cancer, Henry H. Washington III, Ph.D., was still shocked by his prostate cancer diagnosis after a routine screening. A retired Army Major and longtime athlete, Washington saw himself as the picture of health.

“After fighting for my country in the military and then to find out I have prostate cancer – how do I deal with that? It was a lot of emotions. I think as men we aren’t allowed to have emotions. We are taught that we need to be strong.”

  • Henry H. Washington III

Screening for prostate cancer is key in early detection

After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer for men in the U.S. Anyone who was born with a prostate can develop it. About 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed during their lifetime, and Black men are more likely to develop prostate cancer.

 In its early stages, prostate cancer can be difficult to identify because there are usually no symptoms.

Routine screening for those who are at risk can help detect prostate cancer early before it has spread. The greatest risk factor is age. Men over the age of 65 have the highest risk. Additional risk factors include inherited gene mutations and a family history of certain cancers.

Speaking out and supporting loved ones with prostate cancer

Courtney Bugler, president and CEO of ZERO Prostate Cancer who herself is a cancer survivor, said she was inspired to take on this role to support her father, who is living with the disease.

“There’s a stigma around prostate cancer and watching my dad made me want to shine a light on something that, quite honestly, I don’t think gets enough attention. After almost 20 years of him supporting me after my own diagnosis, it’s time for me to be there for him.”

  • Courtney Bugler
    CEO of ZERO Prostate Cancer

The stigma associated with prostate cancer can be attributed in part to the nature of the disease and its treatment disrupting normal urinary, bowel and sexual function, all of which can impact a patient’s body image and self-esteem. The thought of impaired sexual health, in particular, may even lead men to avoid screening for prostate cancer altogether.

Statistics show there’s still unease around prostate cancer diagnosis

A 2022 study of 200 metastatic prostate cancer patients, conducted by Merck and Cerner Enviza, found:

  • 58% of patients agree there’s a stigma around prostate cancer.
  • 39% didn’t share their feelings about having prostate cancer with loved ones because they felt they needed to “stay strong.”
  • More than a third felt uncomfortable, embarrassed or vulnerable talking to their loved ones (37%) or their doctor (38%) about emotional challenges.

Now cancer-free for a decade, Washington said he sees helping others as his purpose. He faces the potential unease head-on by educating others about prostate cancer, encouraging men to get checked early and working with men who have been diagnosed.

“Survivorship is not a linear experience; sometimes it’s two steps forward, five steps back,” said Washington. “The support I received from my friends, my support groups, my mother and my family is what gave me strength to educate others about prostate cancer.”

"Finding support and having people beside you who know what you're going through is what will help get you through.”

For more information about prostate cancer and access to helpful resources visit ZERO Prostate Cancer.

Innovation

Our Q1 2024 earnings report

April 25, 2024

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Merck’s (NYSE: MRK) Q1 2024 results reflect continued strong growth in oncology and vaccines. Our company announced Q1 worldwide sales of $15.8 billion, an increase of 9% from Q1 2023.

“Merck has begun 2024 with continuing momentum in our business. We are harnessing the power of innovation to advance our deep pipeline and are maximizing the impact of our broad commercial portfolio for the benefit of patients,” said Rob Davis, chairman and chief executive officer. “We drove strong growth across key therapeutic areas, executed strategic business development, and in the U.S., we are now launching WINREVAIR, a significant new product in the cardiometabolic space for adults with pulmonary arterial hypertension, a progressive and debilitating disease. We have important opportunities ahead of us across all areas of our business, and we are highly focused on realizing them.”

Merck anticipates full-year 2024 worldwide sales to be between $63.1 billion and $64.3 billion.

Take a look at the infographic below for more details on Q1 2024 results.

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1Q infographic
Innovation

A new foundation for future talent

We’re partnering with America’s largest HBCU to launch a collaborative biotechnology learning center

April 22, 2024

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Building the workforce of tomorrow means investing in the students of today. That’s why we’ve partnered with North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (N.C. A&T) — the largest historically Black college and university in the U.S. — to launch the Merck Biotechnology Learning Center.

“We’re pleased to launch this new collaboration with an institution that precisely aligns to our company priorities to invest in the growth and delivery of innovative health solutions and strong values around diversity and inclusion,” said Sanat Chattopadhyay, executive vice president and president, Merck Manufacturing Division. “Together we can fuel the growth of talent for our company and the biotechnology industry overall.”

Located in the home state of our Durham and Wilson manufacturing sites, the 4,025 square-foot facility will enhance academic programming and training for biotechnology careers for N.C. A&T students and provide advanced discovery opportunities through its classroom space, process laboratory and state-of-the-art biopharmaceutical manufacturing equipment.

“This collaboration signifies a union between academia and industry, and a commitment to excellence, innovation and the advancement of scientific knowledge,” said Tonya Smith-Jackson, Ph.D., provost and executive vice chancellor of academic affairs for N.C. A&T.

The collaboration also signifies an investment in the community’s future by expanding local and statewide bioeconomy initiatives. It’ll also help to diversify talent and recruitment opportunities for our company and offer vaccine manufacturing process training for new and existing employees. 

“The Merck Biotechnology Learning Center will provide opportunities for N.C. A&T students to look inside the biopharmaceutical industry and understand what a career in this space looks like. Through our joint initiative with N.C. A&T, we’re developing new and innovative ways to build a pipeline of talent here in North Carolina and beyond.” 

  • Amanda Taylor
    Vice president and Durham plant manager
Innovation

Humans, animals and the environment – our health is all connected

Why the One Health approach is important now more than ever

April 15, 2024

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The health of humans, animals and the environment are all interconnected. When the health of one is at risk, the health of all may be at risk.   

We see it in diseases transferred between animals or insects and humans (called zoonotic and vector-borne diseases) such as rabies, Lyme disease, West Nile virus, swine flu and Ebola, among others. We also see it in the growing threat from antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which occurs when bacteria mutate in ways that make the medicines (antimicrobials) used to treat infections ineffective, or when these medicines are used inappropriately to treat viral infections. Or, in diseases in food-producing animals, jeopardizing global food security.

Our increasing vulnerability to such new health challenges has led to a focus on “One Health” — an integrated approach to addressing human, animal and environmental health for the benefit of all.

What is One Health?

One Health is the collaborative approach across multiple disciplines — working locally, regionally, nationally and globally — to prevent, detect and respond to health issues at the interfaces between humans, animals and the environment.

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It requires collaboration among doctors, veterinarians, nurses, public health practitioners, epidemiologists, agricultural workers, ecologists, wildlife experts, and industry as well as policymakers, communities and even pet owners.

“No one person, organization or sector can address these issues alone. Identifying and responding to growing health challenges requires teamwork,” says Holger Lehmann, DVM, Ph.D., VP, pharmaceuticals research and development, Merck Animal Health.

But what has led to these increasing population health threats?

Why are we more vulnerable to new health challenges?

Society has undergone major changes over the past century. While technology, increased mobility, industrialization, urbanization and globalization have advanced human, animal and environmental health in many ways, they’ve also made us more vulnerable to new health challenges.

For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, millions of people and animals around the world are affected by zoonotic diseases. Scientists estimate that around 60% of emerging infectious diseases that are reported globally come from animals, both wild and domestic. Over 30 new human pathogens have been detected in the last 3 decades, 75% of which have originated in animals.

They can be spread in a number of ways, including direct or indirect contact, vector-borne, foodborne or waterborne. In fact, foodborne pathogens cause millions of cases of sporadic illness and chronic complications, as well as large and challenging outbreaks in many countries and between countries.

In addition, increased exposure to new viruses/bacteria combined with excessive and/or inappropriate use of medicines is causing a rise in AMR. Worldwide, an estimated 4.95 million people died with drug-resistant bacterial infections in 2019, and 1.27 million of these deaths were directly caused by antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Three main factors are fueling these population health threats, increasing the probability and speed of spreading diseases. They are:

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Changes in climate and land use

Deforestation and other disruptions in environmental conditions can provide new opportunities for diseases to develop.

Exponential population growth and expansion into previously uninhabited areas

More people are living in close connection to their companion animals, and in some cases, closer to wild and domestic animals.

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Increased international mobility

People, animals and animal products are moving more frequently, easily and widely than ever before.

Our commitment to One Health

With deep expertise in both human and animal health and a commitment to our shared environment, our company is well-positioned to be a leader in the One Health approach.

“We recognize the issues — such as zoonotic and infectious diseases and food safety and security — are interrelated,” says Ian Tarpey, Ph.D., VP, biological research and development, Merck Animal Health. “Our Animal Health and Human Health teams will continue to collaborate to discover and develop preventative solutions for existing and emerging diseases in animals and people.”

Our One Health approach focuses on many areas, including:

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Disease prevention

We remain focused on discovering and developing vaccines and technologies to help prevent both human and animal diseases.

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Surveillance and monitoring

We’re committed to advocating for and participating in scientifically based surveillance monitoring systems to better understand, track and predict health-related issues.

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Respecting our environment

We support science-based, environmentally sound international and national programs to address the challenges to environmental health.

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Innovation

Our human and animal health research laboratories collaborate in antimicrobial and vaccine research in many ways including sharing enabling technologies, expertise and evaluation of external opportunities. We’re also investing and developing predictive, monitoring and diagnostic technologies to help animal caretakers make data-driven evaluations of an animal’s health status and optimize their animals’ health and well-being.

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Stewardship of essential medicines

We’re playing a leading role in addressing AMR by not only discovering and developing medicines and vaccines to treat and prevent infectious diseases in humans and animals but also supporting responsible use of these products.

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Safe and sustainable food supply

We continue to work on developing vaccines and other tools to prevent animal disease to ensure a safe, nutritious, sustainable food supply, and we’ve implemented surveillance initiatives to enable more accurate risk profiling, early disease detection and individualized diagnosis/treatment decisions in livestock.

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The science of healthier animals

We build strong partnerships in an effort to improve the health of animals around the world, and approach our work with a deep sense of responsibility — to our customers, consumers, animals, society and the planet.

Our work to promote optimal health continues

“One Health recognizes the interconnectedness of human, animal and environmental health, acknowledging that the well-being of each is intricately linked. By embracing a collaborative approach, we can effectively address the complex challenges and promote optimal health for both humans and animals.”

– Dr. Jenelle Krishnamoorthy, VP, global public policy