For 130 years, Merck Sharp & Dohme has been inventing for life, bringing medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases in the pursuit of its company mission to save and improve lives
We need to continue in the same direction, and once we close the gap on EU countries, we need to have continuous and sustainable investment behind innovation, in parallel with reducing inefficiencies in the healthcare system,” says Merck Sharp & Dohme Director Nebojša Škuljec.
Has the pharmaceutical industry been working over the past year to develop new therapies for diseases that we neglected and disregarded as a result of the arrival of COVID-19?
Prior to COVID-19, most resources and efforts were focused on developing new drugs for oncology and non-communicable diseases. MSD made a breakthrough in oncology treatment several years ago, with the development of the first immunooncology drug, Keytruda®, which showed remarkable results that have been confirmed by the now five-year survival data on some of the deadliest forms of cancer, such as malignant melanoma and lung cancer. We’re continuing to investigate and demonstrate the benefits of Keytruda® in a range of malignant diseases, but we’ve also strengthened our commitment to fighting infectious diseases. In parallel with developing new powerful antibiotics that are needed to address growing antimicrobial resistance, MSD is investing a lot of effort into delivering quickly on the new potent anti-COVID drug. Our Molnupiravir molecule has been shown to be active in several models of SARS-CoV-2.
Patients in the U.S. can take advantage of the availability of the latest therapies. How can we reduce the availability gap compared to such developed countries?
Besides investing in the development of new medicines, it is also important that innovations are accessible and affordable to the patients who need them. Spending on medicines as a percentage of overall healthcare expenditure ranges from five to 10 percent in most developed countries, to as much as 60 percent in many emerging economies.
Merck Sharp & Dohme aspires locally to be the most-trusted partner to Serbian Government, healthcare institutions and health workers
All healthcare systems worldwide aim to secure mechanisms to control healthcare costs while serving the need for breakthrough treatments. Serbia has come a long way in the past several years, in terms of access to innovative medicines, followed by increased investment that has resulted in much better outcomes for patients.
The second important task for policymakers and the pharmaceutical industry is to expand public-private partnerships, like the latest one coming from our company, which relates to the aforementioned anti-COVID drug Molnupiravir. We believe that this kind of partnership, as well as advanced purchase agreements, are also possible in other countries, and we are actively engaged in numerous efforts to ensure Molnupiravir is also available in Serbia, immediately after global healthcare giants like the U.S.
Are you preparing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of your operations in Serbia? What is behind you, and what lies ahead?
We’ve demonstrated the same commitment to patients and the health of the population in Serbia over the past 25 years by increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, we continue to be at the forefront of research aimed at preventing and treating diseases that threaten people’s lives, just as we also aspire locally to be the most-trusted partner of the Serbian Government, healthcare institutions and health workers.