Merck Sharp & Dohme will continue to serve patients and the health system in Serbia, and the key to realising success will be regular communication and exchange of information with state institutions, health policymakers, health workers and patients.
We will invest significant resources in the discovery, development, production and global distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine, in order for it to be available to the population around the world as soon as possible, and we will develop an antiviral drug for severe coronavirus forms, in cooperation with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, announces Merck Sharp & Dohme Director Nebojša Škuljec, speaking in this interview for CorD.
The new Coronavirus pandemic is continuing and keeping the world in a state of emergency. Is this a challenge for pharmaceutical companies like yours?
The appearance of Covid-19 has had a major impact on the whole world and I think that the health and pharmaceutical sector will no longer be the same after the end of the pandemic.
Globally, our company responded quickly by increasing its production of medicines, and we in Serbia have ensured that sufficient quantities of all medicines are available to patients infected with Covid-19, as well as to those needing therapy for chronic diseases.
In addition to this, in accordance with our long tradition of corporate social responsibility in Serbia, we have responded with other forms of assistance worth 100,000 euros.
Serbia has long since lagged behind Europe when it comes to the introduction of innovative therapies. Is that situation slowly improving?
In terms of the availability of innovative therapies, Serbia lagged behind significantly in the period from 2012 to 2016. The National Health Insurance Fund and the Ministry of Health have exerted significant efforts in the last few years in order to achieve improvement in this segment, given the unequivocal value of modern therapies, in terms of ensuring a longer, healthier and more productive life for patients, as well as in terms of reducing the number of hospitalisations, complications and co-morbidities.
MSD Serbia remains committed to its goal of preserving and improving human health, both globally and in our country
At the end of 2019, the Ministry of Finance approved an additional investment worth five billion dinars, which resulted in the introduction of modern therapies, as early as the beginning of this year, for the treatment of lung cancer, among other things.
What is the future of the pharmaceutical industry? Biological medicines; personalised therapies?
The focus of the pharmaceutical industry has shifted from medicines to the patient, which we can certainly call personalised medicine. At MSD Serbia we imply that this means that every patient should have the opportunity to get the right therapy at the right time, which will provide the best treatment outcomes and/or the prevention of later illness.
MSD was the first company to come up with the immunotherapy that revolutionised the treatment of advanced malignant diseases. For now it is used in the treatment of malignant melanomas and lung cancer, and it is already available around the world or is being tested for a larger number of types of cancer. We hope that, with the widespread use of immunotherapy as a new standard of treatment in oncology, cancers will increasingly become chronic and not fatal diseases.
With what plans and ambitions are you awaiting the year ahead, during which you will mark a quarter of a century of your business in Serbia?
The time ahead of us will bring a lot of new challenges. We believe that greater investment in prevention and treatment will have a positive impact on all infectious diseases that represent a threat to the sustainability of health systems and society as a whole. And here too we have much more to offer, from vaccines to prevent infections caused by HPV, through the latest antibiotics, to effective therapies for HIV infections and hepatitis.