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Our Approach

CEO Letter

At Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA, corporate responsibility is reflected in every part of our company and through the work of every employee.

Our company leaders worldwide incorporate, practice and reinforce the principles of corporate responsibility in all of their daily activities. Corporate responsibility is both a beacon and a mindset, grounding our operating principles and guiding our commitment to expanding access, operating ethically, engaging our employees and protecting the environment.

As a biopharmaceutical company, we firmly believe that the best way to create intrinsic, long-term value for both society and our shareholders is through the discovery and development of transformational medicines and vaccines. Our success—and our future—is predicated on what has long defined our company: innovating at the intersection of scientific opportunity and unmet medical need. We intend to stay at the forefront of biopharmaceutical science and remain steadfastly committed to making meaningful impact on the lives of patients while delivering value for our customers and shareholders.

Through our pipeline and commercial portfolio, we are focused on many of the world’s most vexing and urgent health challenges, and are poised to play a leading role in addressing them. Accordingly, our commercial and research priorities are highly aligned with the current and projected global burden of disease as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO). This includes the increasing need for new therapies targeted to historically difficult-to-treat diseases such as hepatitis C and antibiotic-resistant infections.

In 2014, we received approval for seven products, including GARDASIL®9 (Human Papillomavirus 9-valent Vaccine, Recombinant) and BELSOMRA® (suvorexant). We now have more than 10 Phase 3 programs that target many of the world’s most urgent public health issues, and our scientists are engaged in the most innovative areas in biomedical research today, including:

  • Immuno-oncology—the science of using the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab), the first anti-PD-1 treatment approved in the U.S. for advanced melanoma, is now being studied in over 30 cancers in more than 20 combination settings.
  • Chronic hepatitis C infection—a disease epidemic that the WHO estimates is now affecting as many as 130 to 150 million people globally. Our investigational, combination HCV therapy has shown high virologic cure rates across a broad range of patient types, including many with harder-to-treat disease and various complicating co-morbid conditions.
  • Cardio-metabolic disease—the number one cause of death globally. Our investigational medicine called anacetrapib is being studied to determine if it can further reduce certain cardiovascular risks.
  • Alzheimer’s disease—a condition that afflicts more than 36 million people globally. This number is projected to double almost every 20 years, skyrocketing to more than 115 million people by 2050 and costing the U.S. in excess of $1 trillion dollars.
  • Antibiotic resistance—the growing worldwide challenge of so-called “superbugs” that are developing resistance to common antibacterial and antifungal treatments. These infections are increasingly causing serious illness and even death. Some estimates place the growing worldwide cost of these superbugs at more than $100 trillion dollars by the year 2050. Earlier this year we completed our acquisition of Cubist, a biotechnology company with a history of developing and commercializing products for use in the hospital setting, particularly in the areas of infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance. The combined portfolios of our organizations are complementary, with each bringing important expertise and capabilities.
  • Emerging global pandemics—including the fight against Ebola. Our investigational Ebola vaccine with our partner NewLink Genetics is in three large-scale clinical trials in some of the hardest hit countries in West Africa, including Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Through our scientific innovation in these and other areas, we intend to play a major role in transforming global healthcare. Yet we also believe that to truly make a difference, we need to bring the best of our company—including our scientific, business and creative expertise—to bear to enable those innovations to reach patients who need them.

For example, MSD for Mothers, known as Merck for Mothers in the U.S. and Canada, our company’s 10-year, $500 million initiative, is fostering the next generation of solutions to reduce maternal deaths worldwide. Through partnerships with local, on-the-ground organizations all around the world, our programs have helped develop quality maternal healthcare and family planning services for an estimated 3.5 million women in 30 countries in just 3½ years. And with our partners in Uganda and Zambia, we’ve seen maternal mortality ratios in targeted areas fall by 30 and 35 percent, respectively. There remains much more work to do, but we remain committed to our vision of a world where no woman dies giving life.

We are also making progress in supporting our employees, protecting the environment, and building our relationships with the communities in which we work and live. And we continue to build the trust and confidence of our stakeholders by embodying ethics and transparency in everything we do.

Our company has a long history of environmental stewardship, and we realize that our strategy and efforts need to evolve in order for us to operate in an increasingly resource-constrained world. To advance in that effort, we have identified the issues that are important to our business and our stakeholders so that we can prioritize them for action. We have focused our environmental sustainability strategy on improving the efficiency of our operations, designing for the environment, and reducing the impacts and risks in our value chain. For example, during 2014, we used 7.2 billion gallons of water versus 9.0 billion gallons used in 2009, a 19 percent reduction.

We are proud of the progress being made in developing a 21st century workforce that includes the world’s top, diverse talent and is driven by the desire to apply cutting-edge science to develop effective medicines and vaccines that save and improve lives around the world. Our nine Employee Business Resource Groups (EBRGs), with about 8,000 members, are a testament to our commitment and proof that inclusion drives success. In 2014, we received the Special National Award from DiversityInc for the important role these EBRGs play in impacting our business. This national award recognizes the company’s innovation in driving business performance through the EBRGs by cultivating the diversity of our talent, enhancing our corporate responsibility and creating new, innovative business insights linked to our company’s business agenda.

We believe in the dignity of every human being and in respecting individual rights. The company has established global policies and processes to demonstrate this respect, including our global Public Policy on Human Rights and Our Values and Standards (Code of Conduct), which reaffirms our commitment to scientific excellence, ethics and integrity. We are committed to reporting on our progress and through this report and our ongoing activities, we confirm our commitment to support the 10 universally accepted principles of the UN Global Compact.

We will continue to listen and engage with our stakeholders globally to benefit from broader perspectives and to share our own. And we will continue to respond in ways that help bring our new products to more people and sustain our business.

We are proud of our achievements, and are motivated by the vision and energy of the partners we work with to make these advances possible. But we recognize, in view of the growing needs of people around the world, that we can never be content with the status quo.

The challenges the world faces continue to be more complex to address, but more costly to ignore. In light of these challenges, we are poised to be bold, flexible and innovative in our efforts to address them. I firmly believe that our company is, and will continue to be, a positive force for change in the world.


Kenneth C. Frazier

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, USA

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