The FINANCIAL — Merck & Co., Inc. on December 8 reaffirmed its commitment to discovering and developing novel treatments for a broad range of cardiovascular disorders, including atherosclerosis, hypertension, heart failure and metabolic syndrome. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Company's first major medicine for cardiovascular disease.
"We are committed to continuing our work in cardiovascular care," said Dr. Peter S. Kim, president, Merck Research Laboratories. "Cardiovascular disease claims more than 17 million lives worldwide each year and remains the leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability. Merck's cardiovascular research and development history makes us confident that more progress can be made to combat cardiovascular disease."
More than 50 years after Merck introduced its first cardiovascular medicine, the Company has launched nearly 30 additional cardiovascular products, many of which were the first of their kind. By studying these medicines for new uses in landmark clinical trials, Merck has helped to establish new ways to treat cardiovascular disease.
"We're proud of the innovations introduced by Merck and appreciate our partnership with cardiovascular specialists to help improve the lives of patients with cardiovascular risk," said Dr. Richard Pasternak, vice president of cardiovascular clinical research, Merck Research Laboratories. "What we're doing today and in the future will help us to deliver another 50 years of innovation in cardiovascular care."
Building on scientific strengths
Today, as one of the world's leading pharmaceutical research companies, Merck continues to invest nearly $5 billion a year in R&D to identify innovative new therapies for major unmet medical needs, including cardiovascular disease. The Company has more than 1,200 scientists and employees dedicated to fighting heart disease and eight new drug candidates in cardiovascular research and development for diseases such as heart failure, hypertension, the metabolic syndrome and dyslipidemia.
Besides the work occurring in its labs, Merck also is tapping the best science in the world as we pursue the next generation of innovations. "Collaborations with external partners, wherever in the world, are an integral and essential part of our long-term business and research strategy," said Dr. Pasternak. "Our record and commitment to scientific excellence in cardiovascular care has made Merck a preferred partner for years – a status we intend to retain."
The Company is forming external collaborations and partnerships in the field. Merck has collaborations with Actelion Pharmaceuticals to evaluate drugs for hypertension; Advinus Therapeutics to discover and develop drugs for metabolic syndrome; Arena Pharmaceuticals to develop novel agents for lipid management; NicOx to develop antihypertensive drugs; and the High Risk Plaque Initiative to advance the understanding and management of high-risk atherosclerotic plaque.
Merck also has research partnerships with numerous academic institutions including Oxford University (UK); Duke Clinical Research Institute; TIMI, Brigham and Women's Hospital; Columbia University, Atherosclerosis Research Center; University of Pennsylvania; Baylor School of Medicine, University of Washington, and Montreal Heart Institute.
Merck also supports cardiovascular education and independent research programs. For example, on a national level, Merck supports several American Heart Association (AHA) initiatives such as the Pharmaceutical Roundtable, Get With The Guidelines: Coronary Artery Disease and Stroke, "Go Red For Women", and the AHA Annual Scientific Sessions and Exhibits. At the local level, Merck helps the AHA raise funds for cardiovascular research through Heart Walks and fundraising events.
Merck also sponsors The Giant Heart at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The Giant Heart is an interactive exhibit that highlights human anatomy, physiology, health and wellness. Finally, 2009 will be the 29th consecutive year Merck has supported the American College of Cardiology's Fellowship program.
Merck also provides financial grants and product donations to support independent research programs. For example, Merck has donated supplies of antihypertensive medicines to the National Marfan Foundation (NMF), which is seeking new treatments for Marfan Syndrome, a devastating illness that attacks connective tissues in the body. In April 2008, Merck's efforts earned it the NMF's Hero with a Heart Award for its commitment to innovation and patient care.