Sandra Marinković, External Affairs Lead, Merck Sharpe & Dohme:

We Are Bringing New Hope For Cancer Patients

Merck Sharpe & Dohme is an innovative global leader in the health sector that is dedicated to improving health and well-being of people around the world via innovative medicines, vaccines and biological therapies

We are dedicated to the values that our company promotes under the slogan “Inventing for Life” and will continue to work on improving the efficiency and quality of healthcare in the best interests of the citizens of Serbia.

Merck Sharpe & Dohme (aka Merck in the United States) is one of the largest American and global innovative pharmaceutical companies. Towards which areas of therapy is your research orientated?

Over the course of 125 years, MSD has contributed significantly to the medicine we’re witnessing today with its numerous discoveries, among which was the first effective anti-tuberculotic, invention of the first statin, the discovery of a human papillomavirus virus vaccine that prevents cervical cancer, but what we are especially proud of is the introduction of a new class of medicines that represents a revolution in the treatment of malignant diseases.

In 2015, Global HealthCare ranked immune- oncology as the number one treatment in the TOP 10 medicines which promise to save lives, with its unique mechanism of action which does not target the tumour, but rather the immune system of the organism. This therapy has already been registered for some of the most serious malignant diseases, such as malignant melanoma and lung cancer, while its effect on other types of tumours is still being researched, in the hope that it will help make cancer a chronic illness rather than a fatal disease.

MSD is focused on research and production of a wide range of products for the prevention and treatment of some of the most serious diseases. How would you describe operations of a major American pharmaceutical company in Serbia?

In parallel to numerous activities in the field of educating healthcare workers on the latest diagnostic and therapeutic trends, we are putting a lot of efforts in ensuring that the innovative therapies are not only being registered on our market, but rather recognised as affordable and available to Serbian citizens under the mandatory health insurance.

MSD is committed to helping resolve social problems, primarily through philanthropic activities and various CSR activities that include donation of medicines, the provision of direct assistance to patients, public-private partnerships and the availability of high quality medical procedures with a total value exceeding $20 million.

Innovative medicines, in addition to extending life and reducing mortality, also improve productivity, reduce work absenteeism for patients and their family members, as well as contribute to the growth of gross national income

Limited funding for medicines had an impact on the slower introduction of innovative therapies to Serbian patients in previous years. To what extent does this impact your company’s operations?

Serbia is lagging behind EU countries and the region when it comes to the availability of innovative medicines, despite positive developments we’ve seen at the end of 2016 and in the middle of this year. We are encouraged by the fact that the Serbian Health Ministry and the National Health Insurance Fund also agree that it is necessary to increase financial allocation for innovative medicines, in order to catch up with European countries when it comes to introducing prioritized innovative therapeutic options.

MSD also advocates, within the framework of industrial associations like the American Chamber of Commerce, for the Serbian state to recognise that health and pharmaceutical sector are crucial investment that promotes economic development.