Case Study: Collaboration

Merck Access Dialogues, Merck Serono


At Merck, we are committed to expanding sustainable access to high-quality health solutions to underserved populations in developing countries. We leverage our core competencies, expertise, knowledge, and experience across the health value chain in order to address barriers that inhibit access to health in developing countries. We aim to achieve this goal through a strategic focus on our four As of access: availability, affordability, awareness, and accessibility. The Merck Access Dialogue series is part of our efforts to raise awareness, which is the empowerment of health workers, communities, and patients, with appropriate tools, knowledge, information, and skills toward quality, informed decision-making around the spectrum of prevention, diagnostics, treatment, care, and support.

The series is a multistakeholder cross-sectoral platform for sharing information and best practices, as well as discussing collaborative action around barriers to access challenges with public and private stakeholders. We are sponsoring these access dialogues not as a one-off event, but rather as a platform for a continuous, creative dialogue and exchange among all stakeholders on priority access topics and challenges. We have hosted access dialogues on a variety of topics, including intellectual property (IP), supply chain, and delivery, and plan to host more events. We engage and collaborate with our partners, including multilateral organizations, governments, NGOs, civil society, foundations, research institutions and academia, healthcare professional associations, patient organizations, think tanks, and private sector partners.

Access dialogues take place in many different types of meeting formats, including advisory boards whose purpose is threefold: 1) to collaboratively identify creative potential opportunities to leverage the core competencies of the company toward further engagement in access initiatives; 2) focus on the different challenges and options around innovative approaches to access in the format of a discussion with an expert panel; and 3) raise awareness and educate internally on global health and access to challenges to foster the mindset of making Access to Healthcare (A2H) part of Merck’s DNA, as well as to raise the visibility externally of key barriers to access.

Lessons Learned?

We recognize that we cannot address all the access gaps and achieve the change we seek alone. We believe that partnerships, collaboration, and dialogue are key to delivering sustainable access results.

In our efforts to address the affordability challenge, Merck hosted an innovative access and IP dialogue and advisory board meeting. This was the first ever dialogue of its kind gathering together representatives from government, international organizations, research institutions, and private sector. The group explored opportunities for Merck to join existing innovative platforms, such as WIPO Re:Search, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative DNDi, or the Medicines Patent Pool MPP.

We also hosted a gathering (“Working Dialogue on Accessibility/ Supply Chain Challenges: Thinking Differently!”), which brought together partners and stakeholders from the health sector and beyond to share cross-industry experiences in improving supply chains to deliver products and solutions to people in developing countries and explore how sectors can work together to achieve the common goal of strengthening the delivery of much needed products to developing countries. Participants in this initiative include industry partners (e.g., GSK, Lilly, Sanofi, Novo Nordisk, Roche, and Astra Zeneca), international organizations (e.g., Global Fund, UNITAID, and World Bank), and philanthropic organizations (e.g., the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), as well as experts in the field of global health, development, and supply chain (e.g., global development advisors and health management support teams).

Going forward, we are committed to fostering a continuous, collaborative dialogue with stakeholders and partners from the public and private sectors on important access-related topics.

Results to date?

Following the advisory board meeting, Merck joined WIPO Re:Search. The meeting provided an open space for insightful, critical dialogue on how Merck can best utilize its capacities and competencies to address the affordability challenge. It was a turning point in how the pharmaceutical industries can address issues around IP and access and demonstrated the crucial role all stakeholders play in ensuring a proactive and collaborative approach to IP.

After the working dialogue gathering, the participants reached a consensus to engage in a collaborative Accessibility Platform. Follow-up activities and meetings that feature partners and stakeholders from diverse areas are being organized, and a multistakeholder cross-sectoral platform is being developed that will enable knowledge collection and sharing with the potential for implementation and joint initiatives in the future.

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