Ensuring Ethical Business Practices

Ensuring Ethical Business Practices

We invest millions of dollars each year in the research and development of novel animal health products.


As with our human health pharmaceuticals and vaccines, we test our investigative animal health medicines and vaccines vigorously for safety, quality and efficacy before submitting them for approval, which can be obtained only after thorough review by independent regulatory authorities.

The authorization standards for veterinary medicines are at the same level as those for human medicines. On average, it takes five to twelve years to bring a veterinary product to market. A science-based, predictable regulatory environment is one of the key conditions necessary for innovation and for providing our customers with high-quality products. We support global harmonization of the regulatory process for veterinary medicines through participation in and dialogue with the International Cooperation on Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Registration of Veterinary Medicinal Products (VICH) and the Codex Alimentarius.

On average, it takes five to twelve years to bring a veterinary product to market.

The approval process for medicines and vaccines used in farm animals also establishes withdrawal periods, from the time the last dose of product is given until the animals or their products enter the food chain. These withdrawal periods ensure the safety of human consumption of meat, milk and eggs from medicine- and vaccine-treated animals.

Our submissions to regulatory agencies also include an environmental assessment that appraises the effects of the use of our products on flora, fauna, soil and water. When necessary, restrictions are placed on the use of our products to protect the environment.

Once a product is on the market, we monitor all aspects that could affect product safety. Findings are assessed and reported, as required by pharmacovigilance rules, to regulatory authorities and addressed through appropriate measures.


Disease prevention can be significantly aided by vaccination. In a number of countries, we support veterinarians in enhancing the efficacy and impact of prevention programs, like our ResCalf and ResPig programs and the Convenience Program. These provide a structured approach to improving lung health and preventing bovine respiratory disease in calves and respiratory diseases in pigs and poultry. Respiratory disease can seriously affect the health of cattle, pigs and poultry, and can lead to economic losses. Our acquisition of the worldwide rights to the Whisper® Veterinary Stethoscope System, a non-invasive bovine respiratory disease (BRD) detection system, is an example of how we support veterinarians to help manage herd health. The Whisper Stethoscope System is used to assess lung health, so that, if needed, the appropriate treatment regimen can be implemented to protect the health of the animal. BRD is the most common disease affecting cattle in North America.1

By the geo-expansion into Latin America and Asia-Pacific of our PORCILIS® PCV M Hyo® vaccine, the first ready-to-use single-injection combination vaccine to protect piglets against porcine circovirus and Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae infections during the fattening period, we help these markets to control these disease complexes and reduce the need to use antibiotics to treat sick animals.


Our Animal Health business uses our experience, resources and science to help our partners keep animals healthy, ensure a sustainable food supply, protect public health, and help people and pets enjoy their lives together. We are committed to making a difference in the health and welfare of animals and in wider societal needs.


Access to veterinary expertise and medicines significantly benefits the livelihoods of small landholders and their families.

Milk for Malawi: Through our partnership with Shire Highlands Milk Producers Association (SHMPA), our Animal Health business lends financial and in-kind support to Malawian dairy farmers to improve the quality and quantity of milk supplies. The 2015 shipment of NILZAN® boluses lasted well through 2016. These boluses are used as de-wormers by smallholder farmers on their young stock. They are another piece of appropriate technology for smallholder farmers, as they come in a very convenient form allowing for simple and accurate mixing with a calf’s feed. Producing more calves is a high priority for smallholder farmers keeping only one or two cows. At the moment, in Malawi, the sale of a healthy pregnant heifer can pay for a good house. The local dairy companies have expanded their capacity threefold in the last decade. In the last months of 2016, the process was started for a new delivery of veterinary medicines in 2017.

Relief for unwanted horses: Many of the unwanted horses in the U.S. are healthy horses that become more of a burden than a blessing to their owners because of financial limitations, time constraints, or otherwise failing to meet expectations. These horses can often be repurposed and re-homed. Others may be sick, injured or old. No one knows for sure how many unwanted horses exist in the United States, but we do know that the number of unwanted horses exceeds the resources currently available to accommodate them. Since 2008, our company’s Animal Health business supports the Unwanted Horse Veterinary Relief Campaign together with the American Association of Equine Practitioners. The campaign provides complimentary vaccinations to equine rescue and rehabilitation facilities in an effort to help restore and rehome America’s unwanted horses. In 2016, we donated vaccines with a value of more than $140,000.

1. D. Griffin: Economic impact associated with respiratory disease in beef cattle. In: The Veterinary clinics of North America. Food animal practice. Band 13, Number 3, November 1997, ISSN 0749-0720, S. 367–377, PMID 9368983.

This is the corporate responsibility report of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A., which is known as MSD outside the U.S. and Canada.