We want to improve the access to health care for underserved populations. As a pharmaceutical, chemical and life science company, we provide innovative products and services to improve the quality of human life. We are committed to the safe and appropriate use of and access to Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany medicines and health solutions.
We acknowledge that not only medicines are lacking in the poorest countries of the world; there is also a great need for doctors and medical personnel to administer them. There is often no refrigerated storage or suitable infrastructure for the transport and distribution of medicines. Furthermore, clean drinking water and basic sanitation are often unavailable or difficult to access.
Improving access to health care therefore poses a complex challenge. It involves factors such as development and health policy, health system infrastructure and distribution systems, trained health workers, pricing, and appropriate use of medicines, as well as adequate, sustainable funding.
In order to achieve universal access to high-quality, safe medicines and sustainable solutions for patients in developing health care systems, all the relevant stakeholders – both governmental and non-governmental – must pool their efforts, share their knowledge and expertise, and work together to develop creative ideas.
Since we consider it important to have a wide-ranging, holistic perspective, our programs refer to “access to health”, not merely “access to medicines”. Working at the interface of medicines, diagnostics, nutritional supplements and chemicals, we utilize our expertise and core competencies in order to promote access to health.
In doing so, we set ourselves high ethical standards, in accordance with the charters, guidelines and principles of our company. All legal entities and employees are part of our Group-wide commitment to increasing access to health. Through our programs and charter on Access to Medicines in Developing Countries, we strive to lead and form partnerships to improve global access to medicine, thereby improving the lives of patients.
The Charter covers the following topics: pharmaceutical donations and philanthropy, research and development for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), product pricing, intellectual property, and anti-counterfeiting measures.
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is working on a long-term strategy for access to health solutions, including medicines, devices (e.g. RebiSmart™, easypod™), nutritional supplements (e.g. probiotics), diagnostics (Minilab, Guava, Muse™), as well as capacity building. In doing so, we are working in partnership with key stakeholders, from both public and private sectors, to improve access to health care.
The strategy is defined by a multidisciplinary steering committee that is chaired by Stefan Oschmann, the Executive Board Member responsible for the prescription medicines and Consumer Health divisions. Decisions made by the committee are implemented by an ad-hoc Access to Health Task Force that was founded in 2011. This task force also defines objectives and develops indicators in order to gauge and assess the progress of the strategy. The Executive Board at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany maintains the overall responsibility for our access to health charters and initiatives.
Access to Medicine Index
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany ranked 8th in the Access to Medicine Index 2012 (2010: 17th out of a total of 20 companies).
Every two years, the rates pharmaceutical companies in terms of their contributions to improving access to medicines in developing health care systems. This index aims to increase transparency as well as to sustainably improve access to health. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany ranked eighth in 2012, nine places higher than in 2010.
In order to make informed decisions, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany interacts with stakeholders such as patient groups, government representatives, employees, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), practicing doctors, private donors, and experts on topics that are relevant to access to health. We believe that all those involved must work together in order to achieve sustainable improvements in this area.
Furthermore, the continuous dialogue provides us with valuable feedback on our activities and programs.
The following events represent prime examples of constructive discussions and engagement in 2012:
- At the United to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases event hosted in London by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in January 2012, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany jointly signed the London Declaration along with twelve other leading pharmaceutical companies, the World Health Organization (WHO) and key global health stakeholders. On this occasion, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany announced a tenfold increase in the amount of praziquantel donated annually and to continue the donation program until schistosomiasis has been eliminated.
- At the end of September 2012, experts from WHO, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the British parliament, as well as representatives from the pharmaceutical industry, convened in Berlin to discuss the progress and challenges in the fight against neglected tropical diseases. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany informed health experts on our Praziquantel Donation Program.
- In collaboration with EFPIA, our prescription medicines division supported numerous access to health activities and educational seminars at the European Parliament in Brussels, covering topics such as “Breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and disease: Research on neglected tropical diseases” and “Technology transfer in the Third World: A win-win situation”.
- In March 2012, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany became the pharmaceutical industry's representative on the European Commission's Tajani Initiative, which in particular aims to improve access to medicines in Africa.
- In July 2012, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany hosted the Partnership for Disease Control Initiatives (PDCI) meeting. This meeting enabled an exchange of best practices among pharmaceutical companies that are pursuing a common goal through their own donation programs: to eliminate neglected tropical diseases.
- At the Geneva Health Forum in April 2012, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany organized a panel session on “Schistosomiasis – New Perspectives for Elimination and Control of a Chronic Disease”.
- In September 2012, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany sponsored a symposium on the diagnosis of schistosomiasis at the International Conference on Schistosomiasis in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
- Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany contributed to the global conference on neglected tropical diseases held jointly by the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in November 2012 in Washington D.C. The event aimed, following the London Declaration, to strengthen collaboration among all key players and stakeholders in the global health sector in the fight against neglected tropical diseases.
- In partnership with EFPIA, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is actively engaged in the preparation of the strategic research agenda for EDCTP-II (European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership), in order to include NTDs in addition to TB, malaria and HIV/AIDS.
- In 2011, a Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany representative was the key note speaker at the Global Health Progress Meeting that took place in Geneva on the eve of the 65th World Health Assembly. This meeting between African health authorities and the private sector aimed to discuss innovative public-private partnerships to improve children's health in Africa.
- Our regional head for North and West Africa discusses access to health with local stakeholders, such as pharmacovigilance organizations, local WHO representatives, health authorities, and education representatives.