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Ina Bulat, General Manager & Managing Director Of Merck Serbia And Montenegro And Merck Regional Director For Bosnia-herzegovina, Albania And North Macedonia

Science And New Technology For The Advancement Of Health

Viewed from an historical perspective, Merck has always worked to bridge the gap between the challenges of today and a better tomorrow. A constant commitment to innovation is a strategy that keeps Merck at the top

At Merck we strive to be supportive of women through numerous initiatives with which we want to empower them. We educate thousands of women in Serbia on a daily basis through our pages on social networks, and we will continue to do that in the years to come – says Merck’s Ina Bulat, speaking to CorD.

Merck has three priorities: performance, people and technology. Is that a strategy that the company has been employing throughout its 350 years and that has elevated your company to the top?

– Merck works through scientific research to constantly seek answers to questions that haven’t even been asked yet, and the greatest motivation for that is to be found in the fact that our work in the domain of healthcare helps millions of people.

Our research aims to improve, extend and create life. Merck is a company that has a past, present and future, and we at Merck believe that science is the greatest driving force of this time and that its potential is being constantly renewed through discoveries.

You’ve spent years as the managing director of Merck. What characteristics must a woman have to maintain such a demanding job so successfully?

– Leadership at a company like Merck primarily implies caring for employees and having a desire for constant progress. We have an opportunity to learn a lot as part of one of the world’s largest technology and science companies. And not only that … We have an excellent opportunity to bring many innovations to our country. And these innovations improve people’s health and lives. Merck has always viewed success through generations, and not through business quarters, and we’ve transferred that business philosophy to Serbia.

I personally find great satisfaction in all of our progress – from the dedicated team, via operational results to social engagements.

Merck imposes the same standards of quality in the production and distribution of medicines at all of its representative offices around the world

You educate women in Serbia on a daily basis, while you fight to raise awareness about risk factors leading to the development of many diseases – from the thyroid gland, through infertility to multiple sclerosis – for the earliest possible diagnosis and the highest quality therapy.

– It should be noted that women are much more affected than men in precisely some of the therapeutic areas in which Merck holds a leadership position. Multiple sclerosis, for example, affects twice as many women as men. Four to seven times more women than men have a thyroid disorder. In the field of in vitro fertilisation, we want to empower women because they suffer extreme and unjust pressure from society, although causes of infertility are equally present in both sexes: a third of the causes come from women, a third come from men and a third are due to both partners.

We will continue fighting to raise awareness of disease risk factors in women, for access to screening programmes, the earliest possible diagnoses and fair access to treatment for all women.

The eyes of the entire world have been focused for almost the entire year on medical workers and the healthcare system. How do you view this global pandemic?

– Merck globally is part of key initiatives aimed at ending the pandemic. Together with the Jenner Institute, we have developed a production platform that will enable the mass production of a future vaccine, and the joint team has reduced the time required for the development of a production process from one year to just two months. We are collaborating with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the development, production and delivery of vaccines, diagnostics and treatment for COVID-19.

We would also remind readers that Merck awarded the “Insight into the Future” award in 2019, granting the amount of a million euros for research in the field of pandemic preparation to scientists Pardis Sabeti, from Harvard University and the Broad Institute, and James Crowe, from Vanderbilt University. Thanks to this award from Merck, they are today working with their teams to identify diagnostics and treatments for COVID-19. In partnership with UNICEF, Merck also donated 2.4 million dinars to the Serbian healthcare system.

First- and second-class markets and patients don’t exist for Merck. Does this mean that medicines for Serbia, as well as other parts of Europe, are produced in the same place, using the same substances and according to the same technological process?

– The medicines that Merck brings to Serbia adhere to the highest world standards and are completely the same as those in other countries in Europe or around the world. Merck’s medicines for Serbia and other parts of Europe are produced in the same place, using the same substances and according to the same technological process. Merck imposes the same standards of quality in the production and distribution of medicines at all of its representative offices around the world. In Serbia, as in all major countries worldwide, we are present in the fields of cardiology, diabetes, endocrinology, oncology, assisted reproduction and neurology. Merck strives to bring new therapies to Serbia every year, as well as bringing innovations to existing areas of therapy. We want to support people in every phase of life, improving quality of life and extending life itself.

Merck has always viewed success through generations, and not through business quarters, and we’ve transferred that business philosophy to Serbia

Which innovations have you brought to Serbia this year and, in your opinion, what is the biggest success you’ve achieved in 2020?

-We are proud that we’ve brought one of the biggest innovations in the field of neurology to Serbia this year. This is an innovative therapy for multiple sclerosis that represents a turning point in the treatment of this disease. We have also just launched a national campaign on the prevention of prediabetes, which is also gaining momentum among younger members of the population due to an unhealthy lifestyle. We are currently also working on establishing several internet platforms that will serve to educate both the general public and health professionals. And given that we’re a company that’s dedicated to innovation, we are pleased to support the work of Strawberry Energy, as an innovative start-up company in the field of new technologies. In partnership with them, we have installed two smart benches – with solar chargers for mobile phones and free internet – within the Clinical Centre of Serbia.

The greatest challenge this year, of course, was adjusting rapidly and digitising operations, which we implemented successfully thanks to our well-coordinated team.

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