WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Merck & Co., Inc. issued the following statement in response to study results published today by the World Health Organization offering the first evidence that elimination of the tropical disease river blindness (onchocerciasis) in Africa is feasible with treatment with ivermectin (registered trademark Mectizan®). As the discoverer and manufacturer of Mectizan, Merck decided in 1987 to donate the drug to all who need it for as long as necessary until river blindness is eliminated as a public health problem. The Merck Mectizan Donation Program is one of the longest-running disease-specific drug donation and public/private partnership programs in history.
"When Merck made the decision more than 20 years ago to donate Mectizan to help fight river blindness, we dreamed that a milestone like this might some day be possible," said Richard T. Clark, chairman, president and CEO, Merck & Co., Inc. "It gives me and thousands of Merck employees and retirees enormous satisfaction and pride to know we are playing a role in eliminating a dreaded disease that has ravaged villages and millions of people and generations of families."
Since the program's inception, Merck has donated 2.5 billion tablets of Mectizan at an estimated value of $3.75 billion. Recently, Merck pledged up to $25 million in support of an initiative with the World Bank, the World Health Organization and other partners to eliminate the disease in Africa.
The Mectizan Donation Program now reaches more than 80 million people in Africa, Latin America and Yemen annually.
For more information about the Merck Mectizan Donation Program and Merck's corporate responsibility efforts, visit http://www.merck.com/corporate-responsibility/access/.
Merck & Co., Inc. is a global research-driven pharmaceutical company dedicated to putting patients first. Established in 1891, Merck currently discovers, develops, manufactures and markets vaccines and medicines to address unmet medical needs. The company devotes extensive efforts to increase access to medicines through far-reaching programs that not only donate Merck medicines but help deliver them to the people who need them. Merck also publishes unbiased health information as a not-for-profit service. For more information, visit www.merck.com.
This press release contains "forward-looking statements" as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based on management's current expectations and involve risks and uncertainties, which may cause results to differ materially from those set forth in the statements. The forward-looking statements may include statements regarding product development, product potential or financial performance. No forward-looking statement can be guaranteed and actual results may differ materially from those projected. Merck undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Forward-looking statements in this press release should be evaluated together with the many uncertainties that affect Merck's business, particularly those mentioned in the risk factors and cautionary statements in Item 1A of Merck's Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2008, and in any risk factors or cautionary statements contained in the Company's periodic reports on Form 10-Q or current reports on Form 8-K, which the Company incorporates by reference.